Following victory at Southampton, Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal issued this warning about Martial “When you are 19, you cannot expect consistency. Emotionally they shall have a lot of dips so that I expect also from him but that is not a big problem for me.”
United were not at their best in the early exchanges and were made to pay when Southampton took a deserved early lead through Graziano Pelle. He could easily have made it 2-0 a short while later when Smalling misplaced a pass, and when the ball found it’s way to Pelle, he went past the defender, but his shot hit the post with De Gea firmly beaten.
Southampton were in complete control until Mata broke into the box, he was tackled, however the ball fell free to Martial, who produced another composed finish which was once again likened to his french compatriot Thierry Henry.
Last week it was Skrtel suffering with Martials‘ pace and trickery, this week it was Virgil Van Dijk finding the exquisite turn too much to handle and falling to the floor in the process. It was as if Martial has been watching Henry goals and wants to replicate them every week.
From that moment United took control of the game and Martial made his presence count again when he picked up a loose back pass from Yoshida and expertly fooled the keeper with his eyes, before rolling the ball into the back of the net.
Uniteds’ third goal was truly majestic, a move that totalled 45 passes and had Schweinsteiger acting as the conductor whilst the rest of the team played classical music. With most players in the team getting touches on the ball, it was Schweinsteiger who finally released Depay, his sharp turn and shot came off the post and Mata was at hand to sweep the ball home on the rebound.
Pelle did manage to grab a goal back for Southampton and United were grateful to De Gea who produced a few world class saves to ensure United ended the match with 3 points and move second in the table only 2 points behind leaders Manchester City. In particular with the score at 2-1, a ball came in from a corner and the header from Fonte was a powerful one, the ball had already passed De Gea and was destined to go in the back of the net, yet he somehow managed to claw the ball from behind him and make a crucial save.
With that type of performance it is no surprise De Gea has come back straight into the team. His selection is a great added bonus to the team and must surely feel like a new signing after missing the early games of the season.
Van Gaal was full of praise for his young striker “He is doing great – three matches in a row and three goals,” and at the same time he was making sure the press and fans do not get ahead of themselves and ensuring everybody keeps their feet firmly on the ground.
Although United are a team in transition as Van Gaal has said “You cannot expect a title from a team in transition. But when we are close we shall grab it.” He is talking his team up but making sure expectations are managed accordingly, which is a wise move from the Dutchman after Uniteds’ indifferent performances of the past few season.