One month ago, Anthony Martial was playing in a Monaco side that didn’t feature him as the out-and-out striker. Now, present day, the Frenchman is fronting Manchester United’s attack and is one of the most talked about youngsters in Europe.
It’s been some transformation to say the least and what’s the most surprising thing of all: Martial has not been fazed one bit by the humongous transfer fee that has been batted around the Twitter-sphere day-in-day-out.
5 appearances – 2 from the bench – and a return of 4 goals, 2 assists. That is astonishing from a 19-year-old who has been under the most intense of pressures before he’s even kicked a ball. To come in to a new team, barely training with new teammates, can’t speak the language, adjusting to a new league and the culture, and to perform the way he has is purely remarkable. Mesmerising in fact.
There should be no mistake in admitting that, either.
Since Louis van Gaal, United’s current manager, took over from David Moyes, now head coach of Real Sociedad, there has been a distinct lack of pace spearheading the attack of the Red Devils. Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie were ageing while Radamel Falcao never really recovered from his ACL injury the previous year. James Wilson was an option, and when given the chance he looked bright, but wasn’t often given the opportunity to excel.
But, here, two months into the new season and Manchester United could well have found their missing spark in a young Frenchman named Anthony Martial.
He brings exuberance, dynamism and a focal point that they’ve been missing. The pure excitement that alludes when he touches the ball is magnificent. Martial scares defenders. Against Southampton earlier in the month there were 3 players surrounding him at all times when he was given the ball into feet. He’s dangerous and gaining the respect he so rightfully deserves.
For a long while, Manchester United’s attacks have been so predictable with the striker – Wayne Rooney – not making those vital runs in-behind the striker to either, make space for the attacking midfielders, or receive a long floated ball down his channel. But, Martial, with all his youth and excitement, is bringing that to the table and it’s working perfectly.
He’s not just a fast pair of legs, too, he has the killer instinct in front of goal. Just look at how well he took his first goal against Liverpool in his first appearance for the club. With all what was said about him, “a waste of money” as such, he came on, happily beat the oncoming defenders and kept his composure with a beautifully timed shot, slotting it pas the helpless goalkeeper. It was one of the moments you look back on and just think, ‘wow – did that really happen?!’ It was like a dream.
United will now look to push on with their title aspirations, but first comes an interesting encounter with German side, Wolfsburg. If they are to progress from the group stages, they’re going to need to win all of their home games and will go into the match full of confidence.
Martial is only 19, which we must remember, and from what he’s showed so far and what we know he’s capable of, he could well be Manchester United’s saviour this year.