It was surprising to see Ole Gunnar Solskjaer pick Anthony Martial as the main striker against Chelsea last weekend. Most fans and pundits would have predicted to see the Frenchman on the left-hand side with Marcus Rashford through the middle.
The 23-year-old rewarded his manager with a goal, and it will be interesting to see whether he takes his chance in his favoured position in upcoming games.
Martial has shown he is capable of performing to a high level, but he has frustrated both supporters and managers over the years by his lack of consistency. His inability to play well over an extended period of time has led to some losing faith in the player, and some don’t trust him with the responsibility of playing centrally.
However, Solskjaer may be on to something by giving Martial the nod through the middle. There is no doubt that part of the problem with the Frenchman is that he personally felt he wasn’t completed trusted by the club, and more specifically by his manager.
With Zlatan Ibrahimovic having taken away his number nine shirt, you can’t help but side with him slightly on his point. He hasn’t always helped himself but it’s clear that he has never been told that he is the number one.
After Ibrahimovic, Romelu Lukaku came in through the door and took the number nine jersey. He was again overlooked for another striker, and that lack of faith can, of course, play havoc with a player’s confidence.
Now he does have that faith from Solskjaer, the question is, will he now take his opportunity? After the win against Chelsea, Gary Neville has said that it is now or never for Martial:
“I think now is the time for Martial to deliver it. He is being given his chance.”
I have to agree with that point of view. He scored his goal against the Blues but there were certainly moments where his link-up play wasn’t the best, and he tried a flick or two that didn’t come off.
Martial will know that he will need to improve in order to keep his place. Marcus Rashford’s double signalled his teammate’s intent, and it wouldn’t need much adjustment for Solskjaer to move the England international centrally, and bring in Daniel James on the left-hand side.
The Frenchman has flattered to deceive on occasions in the past, but this time, the mercurial talent must show what he is all about or otherwise he may be condemned to a long spell on the bench.