Anthony Martial continues to go from strength to strength at Manchester United in the No.9 shirt.
The Frenchman again found the net against Southampton on Tuesday – his 16th Premier League goal and 21st of the campaign in all competitions.
He has flourished as an out-and-out striker since the arrival of Bruno Fernandes, making the role his own after previously being used out wide.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has put faith in the youngster after recognising his talent as a central striker and got a perfect response in the form of the best season of his career so far.
Martial’s performances are in stark contrast with the opinions of former manager Jose Mourinho, who increasingly looks to have got it wrong with the former Monaco youngster during his time at Old Trafford.
Mourinho famously took the No.9 shirt from Martial, handing it to Zlatan Ibrahimovich, and claimed he wanted to play up front “for the wrong reasons”.
“I know that Martial likes to play as a No.9, sometimes, I think for the right reasons, sometimes I think for the wrong reasons, but I know he likes to play as a No.9,” Mourinho told Sky Sports last August.
Unlike his predecessor, Solskjaer has always seen Martial as a striker and putting faith in him has paid off.
He handed Martial the No.9 shirt last summer and has given him the responsibility of leading the line.
Martial has now addressed the challenge posed by Solskjaer – and his comments highlight how the current manager has succeeded where Mourinho failed by having faith in Martial’s abilities.
Martial told Canal+: ”He [Solskjær] sent me a message, he said ‘do you want to take your no.9 shirt back?’.
“I straight up said yes! I said yes and he told me ‘now it’s up to you to show me [that you deserve it] every time you’re on the pitch’.”
Martial has certainly responded to the challenge – one which Mourinho never posed to him, instead taking away his No.9 shirt.
Asked about his role as a striker, Martial added: “It’s different, for example on the wing I have more opportunities to dribble past players, to make the difference while as a 9 I’m here to score and I have scored more goals as a striker than as a winger so it’s a good sign for me.
“That’s the position [striker] where I was shaped & developed in at the academy when I was young, that’s where I feel at my best.”
Martial is clearly most comfortable as a No.9 and has thrived when given the opportunity by Solskjaer.
Mourinho, on the other hand, never trusted him in that role and it now appears that he got it wrong – another example of how the Tottenham manager may have lost his magic touch.
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