Over the years the Manchester United teams have always had great strikers to lead the front line. Strikers who could bear the pressure of constant expectation to score goals and to show up in big moments. In my time it was Andy Cole, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, and Wayne Rooney to name a few. All of which have a great goal-scoring record and have won major trophies with the club.
Fast forward gong into the 2020/2021 season and Anthony Martial is our main striker leading the front line. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has put his faith in him playing martial where he’s always wanted to play and gave him the iconic number 9 shirt to wear.
The question is, can Manchester United win major trophies with Anthony Martial as number 9?
Tony Martial Splits Opinions
Tony Martial (nickname the fans call him) is one of them players who are always going to divide opinion. He does with Manchester United fans, football fans, managers, and pundits. Often criticised for his inconsistency, looking uninterested, and hangs a big question over his name that is he good enough to be Man Utd’s number 9.
Graeme Souness said “Every one of us would think, looking at him there is a player in there, but you don’t see it enough. That’s why if you play for a big club, you’ve got to perform most weeks. He’s not consistent enough for me.”
“He shows us glimpses of his quality but he needs to do it on a regular basis for Manchester United now.” – Jamie Redknapp
“You always get the feeling he’s playing at 85%. If he added that extra 15%, then he could do anything. He’s got everything you’d want: composure in front of goal, great skill, pace, strength, but what s that little missing?” – Gary Neville
There many more quotes like this that I can find which you have to take on board because so many people think the same thing. As you can see, no one ever questions his ability. It’s more his consistency and his body language on the football pitch often described as looking uninterested.
Ole Gunnar Backs Him…
While experienced previous managers haven’t played Anthony Martial as a number 9. I even remember when Jose Mourinho majorly dented his confidence when he bought Zlatan to Man Utd. Mourinho moved Tony Martial to the left to play Ibrahimovic center-forward. Not only that, but Jose also stripped him of the number 9 shirt. SolskJaer a prolific striker in his playing days, comes in and puts Martial as his CF. Which was a huge decision at the time, opting for Martial over Romelu Lukaku even though Lukaku’s goal-scoring record for us was quite good!.
|Anthony Martial’s goals & assists||Games||Goals||Assists|
These are Anthony Martial’s goals and assists during his time at Man Utd. The first and last season’s stats are when Martial has played in the center-forward position.
30 goals a Season Strikers
In my opinion the days of the 30 goals a season striker and other people in the team chipping in 5 here and 5 there are dying out. Don’t get me wrong, if a team has a 30 goal a season striker good on them! And if you can get your hands on one then snap them up! But, my point is, they’re a rare breed, and two, it’s an intense season, so if your 30 goal striker gets injured or can not play for whatever reason the effect on the team is usually irreplaceable whereas if you have 3 players scoring 15 plus goals in the team an injury to one is not as detrimental.
With the way modern football is going more and more teams are spreading the workload. For example, two players aim to get 20+, and two other players might aim for 10+ that’s a minimum 60 goals just between four players.
Utd’s Football Player’s Player of the Year
Anthony Martial has been voted the Football Players Player of the Year by his team-mates his first one being at Manchester United and of course, he played most of the season as our number now. This brings me to my next point, Tony Martial’s goals, and assists across the full season as our number nine is impressive. As you can see from the table above, the 19/20 season numbers are:
- 48 appearances
- 23 goal
- 12 assists
That’s 35 direct goal involvement in 48 appearances. That’s impressive!
Tony Martial’s 2020 Season
Over the course of the 20202 seasons, Tony Martial’s center-forward performances have rewarded him with praise from unexpected sources. He’s improved on things like:
Roy Keane, a Manchester United legend and a former United captain has also been one to question whether Martial is the player to lead the line, however, Martial’s recent season lead Keane to say “We have definitely seen something more out of him (Martial) in terms of things I didn’t think he had in his locker such as that desire” (Sky Sports).
As you know I’m not the biggest statistic fan but I don’t mind them when they’re used in the right context and not just to suit an agenda. Statman Dave Tweeted: “Between returning from injury on October the 27th and the end of the 19/20 season, Anthony Martial scored 15 Premier League goals – the only player who scored more in that period was Danny Ings (18).
Remember Bruno Fernandes only came in January before that, Man Utd wasn’t making many chances at all.
Anthony Martial is an underrated player, his link up and his hold-up play is overlooked. Most importantly, he can finish and his shot/goal ratio proves that. He might not have had high-scoring seasons with last season being the first time he’s finished with more than 20+ goals but I’m confident with Tony Martial playing as Man Utd’s number 9 he will get 20 Premier League goals a season minimum.
Pundits criticism about his body language I feel is unjustified. Some players are just like that. That’s him as a person, doesn’t mean he’s uninterested.
However, I agree with the consistency side of things and scoring in the big games more often. But, I honestly think that will improve now he has better service behind him and with a possible signing of a right-winger, (talks of it being Jadon Sancho) Martial will be getting service from all angles.
I am very confident this season will be better than his last and I do believe he’s good enough to be Man Utd’s number 9.
I know Tony Martial is a player who divides opinions so I’d love for you to comment and share!