Soccer

Anthony Martial makes Paul Scholes change his mind about Man Utd’s No.9

Paul Scholes has changed his opinion of Anthony Martial amid the striker’s 2019-20 renaissance.

The Frenchman is Manchester United's top goalscorer this season, with 23 goals in all competitions after a fine campaign under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Martial, 24, has been the Norwegian’s first choice centre-forward throughout the campaign.

And Solskjaer has been largely vindicated in his decision to sell Romelu Lukaku and place his faith in the man who struggled to regularly show his best under former boss Jose Mourinho.

Martial was again pivotal in United’s 1-0 extra-time win over Copenhagen in the Europa League quarter-final on Monday night.

He won the penalty from which Bruno Fernandes bagged United’s winner, and throughout was a constant thorn in the side of the resolute Danish team.

Notably under Mourinho, Martial often operated from the left, but Solskjaer has worked with him extensively in training on being more focused on being in and around the penalty area – rather than drifting to the flank to play what his manager has previously dubbed “tippy tappy football”.

"There has been too much, last year, sometimes this year, players want to gravitate over to the left, and go on there and play tippy-tappy football,” said Solskjaer last month.

“That is something we wanted to get rid of, and we have been more progressive and more disciplined in our positions."

Back in February, after a win at Stamford Bridge, Scholes wasn't certain.

Despite Martial scoring a fine header in a victory over Chelsea, Scholes remarked: "With Anthony Martial, it’s interesting, I don’t know if he’s a wide player, I don’t know if he’s a centre forward.

"Ole clearly thinks there’s a centre forward in there and he’s telling him to get in the box as often as he can.

"You shouldn’t need to [tell a striker to get into the penalty box], but if you’re Anthony Martial he looks like he needs telling.

"He looks like he doesn’t take that much information in. Some players are like that, sometimes you tell them once and they’ll do it all the time.

"He looks like you need to tell him every two minutes, what you want him to do."

But six months down the line, United legend Scholes has changed his viewpoint, on a player he now believes in certain situations can be “unstoppable”.

"I like him, I've always liked him,” said Scholes, speaking on BT Sport. “I thought was he a No.9, or is he a wide player?

“He’s turned himself into a No.9 with every game I watch, more and more, so it’s great to see.”

Scholes continued: “He’s turned himself into a proper No.9. When he’s square on to a player and runs at them, I think he’s unstoppable.”

Former striker Robin van Persie has similarly let it be known that he is a big fan of the former Monaco man, who signed for United under Louis van Gaal in 2015.

Speaking after the win in Köln he said: "Martial always have an eye for his teammates and that's what sets him apart from the others.

"That's why I think he's a world class player."

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