Martial mania set to continue in Rooney’s absence on Dutch soil
Old Trafford was again the scene of another memorable moment which will go down in Manchester United folklore, as the club’s recent £36m teenage signing Anthony Martial burst onto the scene with a debut strike against rivals Liverpool.
The 19-year-old France international’s maiden appearance for the Red Devils could not have gone any better, coming off the bench to score a truly remarkable solo effort in a dominant 3-1 victory, a fitting moment at the Theatre of Dreams.
Louis van Gaal previously stated that the most expensive teenager in history would need time to settle in and that he was one for the future, but it took only 21 minutes to dispatch a debut strike, with the Red Devils now 11/1 with Coral for the title.
Although, after Martial’s Premier League heroics, intentions will now switch towards the Champions League group stage, as Van Gaal prepares to set-up his side for a tough away clash with PSV, where his French starlet could feature once again.
Van Gaal opted to start with Belgian bruiser Marouane Fellaini as a lone frontman against Liverpool, deputising for injured skipper Wayne Rooney, but on the return to the boss’ native homeland, Martial may be thrust into the action instead.
The demanding Dutch boss confirmed his captain will miss out on the club’s long-awaited return to the group stage of Europe’s elite club competition, meaning menacing Martial should play a key role from the start or another substitute showing.
Though, after just a single 25 minute outing from the bench, is Martial truly ready to lead United’s line on the biggest stage in European football against the Dutch champions?
“That is why I am saying all of these things – that he is 19 years old, that he had to adapt, that we have bought him for the future, that he is for my successor. These are all signals from me that we have to protect him,” declared Van Gaal.
“You cannot expect from players of 19, 20 or 21 the same consistency of a Schweinsteiger or Carrick. I hope by my declarations it shall be that expectation dampens.
“We have bought him because of his talent but you have to show your talent at the right time on the pitch and Martial has done that in his first match. We will have to wait and see if he can be consistent and do it every game.
“You have an average from strikers of around 50 or 60% [goal rate] every match. His average at Monaco was lower because his finishing was not so good but today it was 100 per cent.”
Martial would undoubtedly provide an entirely different outlook to the Red Devils’ attacking approach on their travels to Eindhoven, with his blistering pace and ability on the ball a stark contrast to Fellaini’s aggressive aerial attributes.
Upon his arrival to the red half of Manchester, the former Monaco starlet was likened to Arsenal’s all-time leading scorer and fellow countryman Thierry Henry, and the ex-Gunners hitman was full of praise for what he witnessed at Old Trafford.
“He stayed composed and that is what I loved about the goal,” stated Henry. “I call it, ‘freezing the keeper’. He put his head up to look at the goalkeeper, took his time, then put the ball in.
“People were wondering before the game about his price, whether he spoke English or what his attributes were. But he has done his talking with the ball.
“What a way to announce yourself. People didn’t even know my name after 50 games!”
Rapidly jinking in from the left wing, dancing past the Liverpool defence before calmly slotting into the bottom corner, it was like watching a time-lapse of a young Henry at Old Trafford. It’s PSV who may have to deal with such a threat next, with United 16/1 to claim European gory this term.
Van Gaal has warned the Old Trafford faithful not to expect such an impact from Martial in every appearance, but the young Frenchman has certainly grabbed their attention with his own instant burst of Va Va Voom.