'He's stepped it up': Solskjær praises Martial for quality and new team ethic

Ole Gunnar Solskjær has pointed to Anthony Martial’s growing maturity and praised the striker for working harder for the team.

The Frenchman’s goal in Monday’s 2-2 draw with Southampton was his 21st of the season. Yet his manager is just as pleased with Martial’s all-round contribution.

“He’s definitely developing, improving and enjoying his football,” Solskjær said. “He’s stepped it up as an individual and more as a team player, and physically. I remember there were talks about our forwards being the least active [in the league] and there were stats flying around but Anthony is now working really hard for the team and is a quality finisher.”

United’s defence allowed Southampton a 96th-minute equaliser when failing to deal with a James Ward-Prowse corner that led to Michael Obafemi’s close-range finish. Yet Solskjær is content with his rearguard. “I think we’ve had a couple of things against teams that show we’re improving all the time,” he said. “We can defend well at times [and] when you say defence I look at the whole XI because we start pressing from the front.

“There are not many teams that create chances against us because we press high with Marcus [Rashford], Anthony, Mason [Greenwood] and Bruno [Fernandes]. And, at the back end [of the Southampton game] David [de Gea] made a fantastic save.

“Of course we were disappointed to concede a goal in the last seconds but Brandon [Williams] was off, we were playing with 10 men, Southampton had players on who were 7ft tall, and it was a great delivery by Ward-Prowse. I’m very pleased with the development.”

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The left-backs Luke Shaw, with a swollen ankle, and Williams, who has a gashed eye, are doubtful for Thursday’s visit to Crystal Palace. Diogo Dalot is one potential option for Solskjær in that position.

Solskjær refused to be drawn on Pep Guardiola’s demand for an apology to Manchester City after the club’s two-year European competition ban was quashed by the court for arbitration for sport on Monday.

Solskjær said: “My job is to focus on the next game and do the right things. With financial fair play, it was brought in to keep football clubs financially sustainable and that’s important and they give us rules. That’s what we’re focusing on and let other people discuss the rights and wrongs.”



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