Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Anthony Martial is scoring more because he is smiling more as the Frenchman’s return to action coincides with an upturn in form for Manchester United.
Martial scored in both of the games he has started since coming back from a thigh injury – against Partizan Belgrade in the Europa League and at Norwich City last weekend – as United bounce back from a miserable start to the season by going unbeaten in four matches in all competitions.
“Anthony looks happier. He seems happy. He is an infectious boy. You can see he is happy here and that rubs off on everyone and it’s great to see,” United boss Solskjaer told reporters on Friday.
“The mood with the whole group, it’s miles better on the training ground
“The players encourage each other, so it’s nice to be a manager when you see them come out and wanting to do extras, so we are improving.”
Martial’s form and mood is just what Solskjaer needs, having handed Martial the No 9 shirt for the season and giving him extra responsibility for the team’s goal-scoring after the departures of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez.
“I don’t think Anthony has had a long run of games as a No 9 since he played there many years ago as a boy,” Solskjaer said.
“Now he is maturing. He is looking more and more like a player who wants to score goals and not just show his tricks.
“As a No 9, you have to be obsessed with scoring goals.
“He has matured a lot in his behaviour on the training ground and I believe we will see the best of him in the next few years.”
Martial’s return has also helped Marcus Rashford, with the England forward scoring four goals in four games after a previous spell of one in nine for United.
Rashford earned comparisons with Cristiano Ronaldo for his sensational free-kick that beat Chelsea 2-1 in the League Cup midweek.
But to get anywhere near to the consistency of scoring that Ronaldo has shown for well over a decade, Solskjaer says Rashford needs to hunt out the simple goals, starting in the Premier League trip to Bournemouth on Saturday.
“Marcus knows he can get loads of goals, but he needs to add the scruffy ones,” he said.
“Or like the tap-in against Liverpool (in the recent 1-1 draw) from a few yards after a great run and great movement.
“He is improving all the time and he didn’t really see those opportunities a year ago.
“Now he is quicker at reacting and smelling a goal, and that it is worth a 40-yard sprint.”