Ole Gunnar Solskjaer backs Anthony Martial to surpass 20-goal mark for Manchester United
By Michael Kelleher
Last Updated: 21/02/20 11:29am
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is confident Anthony Martial can surpass the 20-goal mark for Manchester United this season.
The French forward scored his 14th goal of the season in all competitions on Thursday to help United earn a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie with Club Brugge.
With the club's top-scorer Marcus Rashford "touch and go" to return from a back injury this season, United are heavily reliant on Martial's goals but Solskjaer is confident the 24-year-old is up to the challenge.
"I think Anthony can step up, get a few more and get to the 20 mark, yeah, definitely," the United boss said.
"He's got quality of course. He's a very good finisher. He takes his chances really well, good technique in his finishing.
"He's good receiving the ball at times and dropping off. He can play almost like a false nine at times as well. Sometimes I'd like him to be stronger physically."
Martial's best goal-scoring season to date for United came in 2015/16, when he scored 17 goals while being deployed mainly as a striker by Louis van Gaal, after arriving from Monaco as football's most expensive teenager ever.
However the emergence of Rashford late that season, and the subsequent arrivals of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romelu Lukaku meant Martial found himself pushed primarily out wide to the left.
Solskjaer has reversed that this season, pushing Rashford wider and letting Martial lead the line up front once again.
Martial scored a crucial opening goal against Chelsea on Monday to help United to a morale-boosting win 2-0 win over their top-four rivals.
He rose above Chelsea's Andreas Christensen to head Aaron Wan-Bissaka's cross past Willy Caballero just before half-time.
It was a goal that particularly pleased his manager, who has been working closely with Martial this season on the finer points of playing as a striker.
"A 1980s center-forward goal," Solskjaer said of Monday's effort at Stamford Bridge.
"I'm encouraged by his attitude this season as well, wanting to do those things that are not natural for him.
"But you've got to make him a number nine again after playing wide for so many years.
"Marcus and Anthony have played wide for a few years until the last 12 months, really."