EPL

Solskjaer confident Martial can ease goalscoring burden on Fernandes

By Sports Desk August 14, 2021

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is confident Anthony Martial can put last season's disappointment behind him and ease some of the goalscoring burden on Bruno Fernandes.

The 25-year-old finished as United's top scorer in 2019-20 but netted just seven goals in an injury-plagued 2020-21 campaign that saw him feature 36 times in all competitions.

Martial's goal tally was his lowest in a single season since joining United from Monaco in 2015, while the 29 chances created was also his lowest creative output to date.

He made 26 starts in total last season, which was curtailed in March by a knee issue, and attempted 66 shots with a conversion rate of 10.61 per cent.

That compares to a conversion rate of 28.33 for Edinson Cavani (from 60 attempts), 17.07 for Marcus Rashford (from 123) and 12 for Mason Greenwood (from 100) among United's other forwards.

Fernandes led the way with 28 goals last time out, albeit 13 of those came from the penalty spot, and Solskjaer accepts others – including Martial – must step up this campaign.

"As I've said before, we really rate Anthony," he said at a news conference ahead of Saturday's opening Premier League game of the season against Leeds United. 

"Last season was disappointing. He had injuries, he lost some form, but the season before he was our top scorer.

"If Anthony is taking all the penalties, or Rashford last season would have taken all the penalties, that's another 10-15 goals for a centre forward.

"But we've got Bruno who's so confident on pens that you can't take that away from him really.

"I'm very confident and I like what I see from Anthony when I see him in training now, and when I see him in the gym, he has that little bit of grit between his teeth again."

United have strengthened their attacking ranks on the back of finishing second in the Premier League last season with the high-profile addition of Jadon Sancho.

With Rashford recovering from shoulder surgery, Cavani being given an extended break and Sancho building up his fitness, Martial is expected to lead United's line against Leeds.

"I think with the forwards that we have, Anthony will score more goals than he did last season," Solskjaer added. 

"I think Mason will only develop. Edinson started late in the season and I think he'll score more goals. 

"Jadon will chip in with goals so I feel confident that the burden is not just on Bruno to score goals. An attacking midfielder shouldn't be the only one scoring 15-20 goals."

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