By Andrew Embling
- Deadline day signing Martial was labelled a “waste of money” before he played a game
- Martial has 4 goals in 5 appearances
It may have raised plenty of eyebrows, but the transfer fee Manchester United paid for Anthony Martial is already looking like money well spent.
United paid Monaco £36 million for the 19-year-old Frenchman, a record fee for a teenager and one which could increase to as much as £58 million with add-ons in a deal which many called a panic buy.
But just a handful of games into his United career Martial has silenced the critics with the way he has adapted to life in Manchester.
The youngster announced himself in style as he scored on debut against fierce rivals Liverpool, a goal which highlighted the attributes United boss Louis van Gaal and his scouting network had seen in a young man who doesn’t turn 20 until early December.
From that moment everyone could see that this lad has a temperament which fits perfectly with Old Trafford.In such a big match, and coming on in the heat of battle, Martial showed ice cool composure as he turned the Liverpool defence in so many knots they are still trying to untangle themselves.
That goal not only made the Old Trafford faithful fall instantly in love with their new number 9, it also put the rest of the Premier League on notice that this was no ordinary player.
Two more composed finishes in his first league start against Southampton – the first of which highlighted his awareness in front of goal and the second his ability to read the game as he latched on to a back pass before clinically beating the goalkeeper – added to his rising star.
Martial made it four goals in four games with a strike off the bench against Ipswich in the Capital One Cup which showcased his finishing prowess still further, but although he failed to score against Sunderland at the weekend his performance was arguably his best so far in a United shirt.
You would have needed to be on a different planet to not be aware of his finishing ability, his speed and his ability with the ball at his feet in his first few games, but his performance against Sunderland showed another dimension to his game.
Martial showed that, even up against two strong centre backs, he has the strength to link up play, hold the ball and also has an eye to make things happen for teammates. Anyone analysing the way he plays will see a great maturity for someone of his age, someone who can’t be knocked off the ball and can play down the centre or drift wide.
His movement creates problems for opponents, he isn’t afraid to run behind defences or run at them and he works hard. The way he created the second goal for Wayne Rooney at the weekend showed just how dynamic he can be, running at the Sunderland defence before having the awareness to cross into the danger area.
It was not the only time he did that in the match and you get the sense that he appreciates the role being asked of him and is eager to learn.
He doesn’t seem fazed by the transfer fee, the attention or the media presence which goes hand in hand with being a United player, if anything he is thriving off it and he seems to have settled into life in Manchester quickly.
He may not be the finished article just yet, but it’s so far so good for United’s new number 9. All of a sudden that transfer fee doesn’t seem so bad after all.