I write this tentatively. The reason? Because he’s a 19year old precocious talent. His name is Anthony Martial. And against Liverpool he left me wide-mouthed; in utter disbelief of what just happened. He received the ball, and from the left, with little effort beat dear old Skrtel (for the fun of it), dragged him into the box beat him again and placed the ball to the left of Simon Mignolet. What stood out in that goal? Martial’s extraterrestrial composure. What a calm boy! He did all that so effortlessly that you would have been forgiven if you believed that he had being doing that for at least a decade at the top of the game. That was his debut. He did not seem at all perturbed. Gliding all over the pitch till he got the ball on the left of United’s attack; he refused to be scared by the physical presence of Skrtel racing at him. He looked up, glided past him raced the ball into the box, beat him once again, raised his head, looked Mignolet square in the eyes and showed a clinical edge that Woodward and Van Gaal would hope would surface week-in-week-out. What a goal!
Now you have to understand my utter disbelief. This was a boy who had just about fifty senior league appearances under his belt. He did not even start in Monaco! (Yes, he didn’t). And given the price with which Manchester United bough him the doubters were many. Many United fans did not even understand why United bought him. But against Liverpool (hopefully) they saw the future!
United to get him, signed a deal with the directors of Monaco that would possibly lift the total cost of his transfer to a staggering 80million euros. When you pay the price you would for a world class world-beater for a 19year old player, you raise many eyebrows! And United really did raise many (mine inclusive).
It was no fluke. For those who gave the pathetic excuse that Skrtel was tired, I’d like to ask a simple question: “Did you watch him against PSV?” As I said in my very first line, “I write this tentatively”. But no, with what I saw, he is no fluke. He is young and with that sort of composure and commitment, it makes perfect sense to say that, he only has up to go. This is a player who played only his second game for United, but played on the same wavelength as regular starters as Depay and Mata. Yes United lost. That’s nothing new. But, Martial impressed. He really did. His work rate was admirable. His commitment full. His vision surprisingly accurate. His movement just as is expected of a modern-day-striker. He wholly impressed. Yes he did not have many attempts at goal. He has a long time to improve on that, and under the watchful eye of Louis Van Gaal, we might just be watching the birth of the next Thiery Henry.
Tentatively I say: Martial is here to stay.