Ole Gunnar Solskjaers long term No.9 plan at Man Utd amid Anthony Martial inconsistency – Mirror Online

Ole Gunnar Solskjaers long term No.9 plan at Man Utd amid Anthony Martial inconsistency – Mirror Online

When Anthony Martial lifted the roof off Old Trafford on September 12 2015 with a stunning match-clinching goal against bitter rivals Liverpool he earned cult-status amongst fans.

More than five years on, though, surprisingly the 25-year-old Frenchman isn’t loved by everyone at Manchester United.

There’s no doubting when Martial runs hot he’s as dangerous as they come, big pace, gliding movement and quick feet.

But there are plenty who believe he blows cold far too often.

His latest two goals – both superbly executed – came after climbing off the bench in the 9-0 rout of Southampton.

It took his overall tally to 72 goals in 186 games for United – a ratio better than a goal every three games.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer talks to Anthony Martial
(Image: Manchester United via Getty Imag)

Yet still, Martial divides opinion more than any striker on the Old Trafford payroll.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sees Martial as a number 9, down-the-middle centre forward.

Or he did until Edinson Cavani came in and showed how the role should REALLY be played.

Martial switched from wide left to centre forward last season and had impressive success, scoring 23 goals in 48 games.

But Cavani is proving he has a different level of mastery over the position after honing his skills at Napoli and Paris St Germain where the goals flowed.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Edinson Cavani and Bruno Fernandes celebrate in Manchester United's 9-0 win over Southampton
Edinson Cavani was on target against Southampton

There’s a clamour for Solskjaer to make the Uruguayan his first choice central striker and when he performs as he did against the hapless Saints few can argue that he’s got the jump on Martial.

Cavani, who turns 34 on Valentines Day later this month, isn’t exactly one for the future and if the United boss wants to utilise him properly that means being a first choice starter.

If Martial feels threatened by Cavani’s experience and expertise at number nine and steps up his performance that can only be a win-win for Solskjaer.

Especially with Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood blossoming in their favoured positions wide on the left and right flanks up front.

Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood are flourishing on the flanks
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)

Longer term though is Martial the future at centre-forward post Cavani?

If United want to close the gap permanently on Manchester City and Liverpool can Solskjaer afford to gamble on the Frenchman at number 9?

It’s a dilemma that hardly seems a priority in the aftermath of a stunning 9-0 destruction of a Premier League opponent.

But from the moment he took the job, steely-eyed Solskjaer – no longer the baby-faced assassin – has been planning for success.

And that’s why the whisper inside Old Trafford is that Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland is STILL the striker Solskjaer wants to sign – even above PSG flyer Kylian Mbappe.

Some might say that’s harsh on Martial who may grow into the number 9 role given time.

But in the pursuit of success there’s never room for sentiment.

And Solskjaer knows all about that from his days under legendary, but ruthless, United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.

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