Anthony Martial is enjoying the best season of his career so far, with the Manchester United striker thriving under the man-management of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Eyebrows were raised when the Norwegian went all in on Martial as his No.9 last summer, selling Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan and foregoing a direct replacement.
Martial had only intermittently played centrally during 2018-19 under both Jose Mourinho and then Solskjaer following his mid-season arrival, spending the majority of his time out on the left.
But this season, with faith placed in him to lead the line and with work on the training ground with his manager, Martial has been reinvigorated.
Again he proved crucial in United's 1-0 win over Copenhagen in the Europa League quarter-final, winning the penalty from which Bruno Fernandes converted the extra time winner.
A mixture of last-ditch challenges, fine goalkeeping and some unusually errant finishing denied him adding a 24th goal to his total this term.
But throughout he was United's best player, his sharp movement, touch, speed and dribbling ability causing untold problems to the Danish side's defence.
It is a far cry from August 2018, where he wanted to depart Old Trafford having fallen out with Mourinho, the man who had initially taken away Martial's No.9 shirt, handing it to Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
To some that kind of thing isn't a big deal, but to others it can be massive, a sign that they aren't trusted; for Martial it was the latter.
Solskjaer has done a fine job to build Martial back up gradually – including giving him his No.9 shirt back – and is reaping the benefits.
But he has also made Martial work at his game. If he wants to be the No.9, he has to learn how to be the best No.9 he can possibly be.
After taking last season to take stock, the summer saw Solskjaer set about creating a structure in which both Martial and Marcus Rashford can thrive this term, while helping their team in the best way possible.
But far from being about greater freedom than under his predecessor, it was about streamlining the approach, stripping away the excess that didn't work and focusing on what does.
As the Norwegian declared last month, that has meant Martial buying into his strategy, with a stricter focus on movements that keep him within the widths of the 18-yard box, rather than heading back to the left touchline for needless touches and leaving the central area vacant.
"Within a framework and structure, we do work a lot on patterns and positions and where we want the players to be," said Solskjaer in July.
"But within that we understand that you might pop up on the right or the left or be in different positions, but we have to fill different positions.
"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.
“That is something we wanted to get rid of, and we have been more progressive and more disciplined in our positions."
With Martial this term, that has been the case, and with added discipline, and greater maturity, now at the age of 24, he has shone.
While he still prefers to drop between opposing right-backs and right-sided centre-backs – enabling him to come in on his right foot – rather than going right himself, he is no longer drifting over to the left touchline, placing at time three or four men between him and the goal.
His heatmap from 2018-19 – when he was being treated largely as a left winger and occasionally as Lukaku's understudy – by both Mourinho and also Solskjaer – shows he spent the vast majority of his time out wide.
During 2019-20, he has been used almost exclusively as a centre-forward.
With Lukaku gone, the No.9 position has become his domain, with Marcus Rashford operating from the flank.
And with Solskjaer's constant push for him to remain central, to not waste time and energy, and their work on the training ground on how and when to attack areas and timing runs in the final third, the ex-Monaco man has increasingly prospered.
He still drifts to the left more than the right, but now rather than going all the way to the flank and putting three or four bodies between him and goal, he is increasingly keeping himself tied to the width of the penalty area, with only one or two men to beat when he receives possession.
He is also far more adept receiving with his back to goal, using his body to protect; it's not a surprise that facet of his game has improved since Odion Ighalo's January arrival and having also worked on his upper body strength during lockdown.
Additionally, and again unsurprising, is that since the arrival of Bruno Fernandes he is now getting more touches in the penalty area.
In the nine Premier League games between January 1 and lockdown beginning Martial enjoyed 33 touches inside the penalty area.
In the nine matches of Project Restart, he had 49, almost a 50 percent increase. It's little wonder he's more dangerous than ever before.
Anthony Martial: Penalty box touches in 2020
First nine games: 33 Touches
Last nine games: 49 Touches
*Premier League Only
Combined, it has all led to a far greater output from the Frenchman, who has scored over 20 goals in a season for the first time. Six of his 17 league goals came in the last nine outings.
His 23 goals so far in 2019-20 is well up on his 12 the previous season, while his 12 assists – including winning penalties – is four times as many as 2018-19. Indeed, his 35 direct goal involvements this term (47 games) is the same as his last two seasons combined (83 games).
“Anthony has developed throughout the season,” said Solskjaer, speaking after the quarter-final win.
“He's impossible to stop at times when he gets the ball into his feet and he drives at people. With his balance, he can go either way.
“The only thing now is to put that ball in the net again, but I was delighted with his performance against Copenhagen.”
It has also changed opinions.
United legend Paul Scholes admitted in February: "I don’t know if he’s a wide player, I don’t know if he’s a centre forward."
After his display against Copenhagen, he eulogised: “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."
Robin van Persie, even on a night where Martial's finishing wasn't at its sharpest, declared: "When he switches it on he’s just too fast, too silky and wow, what a player!
"What I like about Martial is he has an eye for his team-mates – he isn’t just playing for himself. He always has an eye for his team-mates and that’s what sets him apart form very good players.
"That’s why I think he’s world class. He can provide, he can give assists, he dribbles, he’s fast but he has great awareness of what’s around him."
Keeping him central, getting rid of what Solskjaer terms the "tippy-tappy" has made him a far more effective and decisive footballer, from whom United are reaping the benefits.
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