What Martial needs to do to be a 'killer' striker
Louis Saha knows all about the pressures of playing as Manchester United's no.9 and he has no doubts Anthony Martial is destined for the very top.
Our former striker has seen real development in his fellow Frenchman's work this season and is excited by what the future holds for the 24-year-old, who took his goal tally for the campaign to 22 with the clincher at Crystal Palace on Thursday evening.
There is one area where Saha believes Martial can show even more improvement, in order to become a real 'killer' in front of goal. As Louis explained to us, the service being provided by the likes of Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba means any forward must be hyper-alert for any passes coming their way.
“It’s fair to say Anthony is in the form of his life, for me," Saha told us. "He’s definitely a player that excites me as a fan and an ex-player.
“I have been in that position where Anthony is, in that no.9 shirt, and I understand the pressure behind it. But I like his reaction; his desire to hurt defenders in many ways. He has the quality as well to score 25+ goals and, when you see the goals he’s scoring, not everybody can do that.
“I am just a massive fan of his and just wish him to have that consistently, to believe he can reach even higher heights because he’s got too much potential to stop there. People may assume this is his top form but I’m not sure because, when you look at his quality, he has definitely improved his positioning and his killer instinct.
"He is really getting there," added Saha. "We can always look for improvement and it’s more about switching on sometimes, as I like to think of it. I was the same. If it’s something he can address, it will make him more of a killer player because you now have players like Bruno Fernandes, who is going to challenge Paul Pogba in terms of creativity in midfield.
“Imagine how much you have to be on your toes as a striker because, if the ball comes from Fernandes, one touch, the ball could come to you. It’s the same with Pogba, so you have to find a way to get really busy and appreciate the fact that you need to create space all the time. This is the only thing I can see he will need to improve – not because the player can’t but because the players now around him are so adept at passing the ball."
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer clearly trusts Martial to fire the Reds to glory and Saha accepts that earning the faith of the manager is vital for any centre-forward. Certainly, the style of the team appears to be suiting the former Monaco man, who has enjoyed his most productive season to date.
"As a striker, the manager’s faith is really important," he said. "You know, when Ole signed, naturally people think, because he’s been a forward, he can really understand where we need to recreate what United were doing, playing forward. Basically, that is what he has done.
“When you see the strikers link with the midfield, you can appreciate the understanding they are starting to pick up. Passes, one-twos, stuff like this. You could say it was more restricted before, maybe more defensive minded in some ways and more about transition football. I’m not saying this wasn’t good or anything like this but it was a different approach.
“You can see the people benefiting from this are going to be the midfielders and the strikers. They have more freedom and more focus on what they are doing so they are creating more going forward."
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