'Martial's confidence needed rebuilding after Mourinho exit' - Man Utd striker is back to his best under Solskjaer, says Ferdinand
Rio Ferdinand says Anthony Martial's confidence "needed rebuilding" after Jose Mourinho's exit, and that the Manchester United striker is finally back to his best under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
United forked out £54 million ($68m) to bring Martial to Old Trafford from Monaco back in 2015, despite the fact he was still a relatively unknown quantity on the European stage.
The Frenchman showed exactly why the Red Devils invested so heavily in his talent during a stunning first season in Manchester, during which he scored 17 goals to finish as the club's top scorer.
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Unfortunately, Martial's development hit a snag when Mourinho was drafted in to replace Louis van Gaal in the dugout in the summer of 2016, as the Portuguese brought in Swedish frontman Zlatan Ibrahimovic on a free transfer.
Martial played second fiddle to Ibrahimovic before also being forced to serve in a backup role behind Romelu Lukaku, who joined United from Everton the following year.
It wasn't until Mourinho was sacked in December 2018 that the 24-year-old was trusted to lead the line again on a consistent basis, which has led to him rediscovering his best form in 2019-20.
Lukaku departed for Inter at the end of last season after Solskjaer opted to make Martial his first-choice number nine, and he has rewarded his manager's faith by hitting 22 goals in 42 appearances.
His latest effort came in a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace on Thursday, with Ferdinand singling the France international out for praise post-match.
The ex-United defender told BT Sport: "I think Anthony Martial was probably the main one, for me, that needed rebuilding.
"Jose Mourinho brings in Zlatan Ibrahimovic, takes his number nine shirt. What that does for a player's confidence I cannot tell you. It absolutely zaps the confidence out of you.
"He’s a poacher, a six-yard box player, scoring the scruffy goals, if you like. But he can also bring other people into the game.
"The intensity with which he plays, the skill, the guile that he’s got. This is what I love about him. He’s doing everything you’d want from a number nine right now."
Ferdinand added on the progress Martial has made since being taken under Solskjaer's wing: "This is what we saw when he first burst onto the scene for Man United as a teenager. He came in scoring absolute world-beater goals, taking people on and driving at people.
"The dribbling, that’s world-class football what you’re seeing there. What I love about him is his intensity has changed, his whole body language has changed, there’s a new positivity about him.
"He’s somebody that is enjoying having the belief of the current manager. That’s what you need.
"No matter what level you are as a player, you need the backing and the belief from your manager to be able to put what you have on show."