Solskjaer: Maturing Martial now obsessed with scoring
United manager backs striker in new No 9 role Rashford’s injury ‘not down to goal knee slide’
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is convinced that a happier, hungrier Anthony Martial is becoming “obsessed” with scoring goals – after the Manchester United striker was criticised in the past for “not looking bothered if he scores”.
Paul Scholes, the former United midfielder, has claimed previously that he saw no signs of Martial “living for goals” like top centreforwards should and that the France striker did not seem to care if he missed chances.
But Solskjaer believes Martial is revelling in his new role as a No9 after spending most of his United career playing wide and was encouraged to hear the player say in an interview this week that it was
“all about scoring goals for me now”. Ahead of this lunchtime’s game at Bournemouth, the United manager said: “I don’t think he has had a long run of games as a No9 since he played many years ago as a boy. Now he is maturing, he is almost 24, and I saw his interview the other day. You have to be obsessed with scoring goals as a No9 and he is looking more and more like a player who wants to score goals and not just show his tricks.
“For me he has matured a lot in his behaviour on the training ground as well. I believe we will see the best of him in the next few years.”
Although Martial’s season has been disrupted by a thigh injury that kept him out for almost eight weeks, the Frenchman has four goals in seven games this term and impressed in attack alongside Marcus Rashford in the 3-1 win at Norwich last Sunday. Martial’s attitude has also been questioned at times and Solskjaer rebuked the striker in the dressing room for a lame warmup before the game against Chelsea at Old Trafford in April. But the manager believes there has been a sea change in attitude from Martial since the summer. “He looks happier,” he said. “He is an infectious boy, his smile and sense of humour, you can see he is happy here and that rubs off on everyone. It’s a miles better group we have now – the camaraderie, attitude, the selflessness, the humility.”
Rashford, Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof have been assessed after picking up knocks in Wednesday’s 2-1 Carabao Cup win at Chelsea. But Solskjaer has denied that Rashford incurred his knee problem while sliding to celebrate his wonder free-kick, despite grimacing and being substituted shortly after it. “Not the knee slide I think – it was a tackle,” Solskjaer said.
Asked if he might ban knee-slide celebrations, Solskjaer said: “No, they can do whatever they want when they score goals. It might be the last one you score.”
Meanwhile, United will fly around 150 fans, who had paid for travel to Kazakhstan with the now defunct Thomas Cook, for free to the Europa League tie with Astana.