Solskjaer: The goals will come for Martial
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has urged Anthony Martial to remain “calm” in front of goal, as the striker looks to recapture the blistering form he showed last season.
The Frenchman has scored just two goals in eight appearances so far in 2020/21 – after netting a career-best 23 in all competitions last term – but Solskjaer is confident that the forward will reach peak form soon.
Martial picked up a three-game suspension after being sent off in the Premier League match with Tottenham Hotspur in early October, and the manager believes that interruption, and a short pre-season, have not helped our no.9.
“Anthony did really develop last season. I thought he made big strides towards becoming the striker we know he can be,” enthused Ole.
“But Anthony is no different from other players in our team [in] that he's not had a pre-season as normal, and he's working to get to his peak form.
“Obviously he lost three games – or three-and-a-half, almost four games – because he had a three-game suspension and it [the sending-off] was very early in the Tottenham game. So he's lost a bit of football. Too much football. He scored against Basaksehir last time [with] a good header, so we hope that he's just going to continue working hard to get to his best again.”
Martial came close to netting his first Premier League strike of the new campaign on Saturday evening when set up by Bruno Fernandes, only to see his effort denied thanks to a wonderful diving save from former United Academy goalkeeper Sam Johnstone.
Last season’s top scorer also suffered similar frustration in his last game with the France national team, against Portugal, where he was denied by the crossbar and several excellent saves.
But Solskjaer explained that he's delighted Martial is regularly getting into promising, goal-scoring positions, and that his trademark ruthless streak is sure to return quickly.
“We want Anthony to keep calm,” said the boss. “I thought with France, against Portugal, he showed his qualities as a centre-forward, [by] getting into positions. Then [Rui] Patricio made a few good saves, and that might have affected Anthony's confidence.
“For me, it's him getting the chances – that's the big thing. Because I know his conversion rate has always been good. Maybe at the moment the keepers have made a few good saves against him, but that will change quickly.”
Martial’s tally last season was 23 goals in 48 games – his best effort since his maiden campaign at Old Trafford – but Solskjaer says the striker, like all United players, must kick on to keep his club career moving in the right direction.
“I think Anthony last season showed that he'd made big strides,” reiterated Ole. “Now it's time again to make even bigger strides and, of course, to develop more. He scored, I don't know, 23 or 24 goals last season, which was a big return.
“But every season is a challenge, and you cannot rest on your laurels, as a right-back, left-back or a centre-forward at Man United. There's demands, of course, in any position.”