Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted he could not get all of the substitutes onto the pitch he wanted to against LASK, even with five permitted. James Garner was among those to miss out.
But when the scoreline was tied and Solskjaer has Anthony Martial on the bench, in his ear telling him he will come on and score a goal, the United boss just couldn’t resist.
Solskjaer explained via the club website: “We needed to win the game. Of course, I wanted to but I couldn’t get all of them on. We want to win, and Anto was begging to come on. But he promised a goal as well, so well done!”
It is totally understandable Solskjaer was sympathetic towards Martial’s plea. He spent most of his career in the same scenario, hoping to come on and change the game.
Solskjaer was the master of the super-sub role during his Old Trafford playing days. It was in this guise he scored the Champions League winner in 1999. Now he is the one making decisions.
Martial has become the player Solskjaer wanted
Martial has developed a lot over the past 12 months. What is really noticeable now, over the past few weeks, is his hunger.
This is what Solskjaer wanted all along from him. Martial entered the day on 22 goals for the season and ended it on 23.
He is now Manchester United’s outright top scorer, moving one ahead of Marcus Rashford. His tally of 23 goals is the same figure as his previous two seasons combined.
We saw how annoyed he was in the win against Aston Villa earlier this month when United won 3-0, and Martial sulked as he was taken off without a goal, having just hit the crossbar. It was actually encouraging to see his frustration.
Martial’s creative side remains. He set up crucial goals for Rashford against Southampton and Mason Greenwood versus West Ham. But when he gets a chance, he is becoming ruthless.
When he was put through in the 88th minute by Juan Mata, there was never any doubt that he would score the winner.
Late goals a great habit
Late goals are a great habit for players and teams to get into, especially late winners.
United drew too many Premier League games last season, 12 in total, and the task next season is to convert these results into wins.
Having a mentality and belief that we can break teams down late on is something Sir Alex Ferguson’s side had, and this year Solskjaer’s United have lacked it. Martial’s late winner here was a step towards correcting that shortcoming.
Martial was not content sitting on the bench putting his feet up and having a night off. He was desperate to come on and score, told his manager so, and delivered.
Solskjaer and his coaching staff have worked closely with Martial to help mould him into the player he is capable of. Now he along with United supporters are loving watching it play out.
Martial has a smile on his face and when he does, it’s ominous for opponents. Statistically there is not a striker in England who has been as good or as prolific as Martial in 2020.
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