Manchester United are one of the in-form sides in English football right now, their 19 game unbeaten run offering up the distinct possibility of Champions League football next season, a prospect which looked like highly unlikely just a few months ago.
Key to United’s resurgence has been the arrival of Bruno Fernandes, and while the Portuguese has become the creative spark, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford have been the men leading the line. Both have netted a career-best haul of 17 Premier League goals this season, with Martial netting six of those since last months restart.
Despite their impressive goal-scoring returns, both have also displayed a selflessness in front of goal, with the pair showing excellent link-up play and understanding at times during Manchester United‘s recent resurgence, a blossoming partnership that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admits he has been looking to build upon.
“We work on it of course, we work on patterns, but they’ve been together at the club for so long now,” Solskjaer said at his pre-match press conference. “There was a spell, of course, when they were challenging more or less for the same position, both of them maybe on the left-hand side, but now we’ve found a way of playing them together and you can see it’s starting to click.
“They enjoy each other’s company, they know each other’s strengths and they know each other’s weaknesses if there are any, so I’m delighted with their performances.”
Solskjaer revealed he his using his own experience as a predatory striker to help improve the pair, the Norwegian having netted 126 goals in 366 appearances for the Red Devils.
“When we split up I do more work with the strikers than the defenders, that’s true,” he added. “So I think I’ve got more expertise and input in that part of it.
“So yeah, whenever we do finishing I like to join in and watch them and give them little pointers and tips and of course before every game, we look at the [opposition] keepers. How do the keepers normally act, what’s their stance, when do they jump, how do they set their feet? Defenders – do they dive in? So we do a lot of work but of course, it’s the effort by the boys and the calmness, composure, that’s the main thing. We work on their heads. I know they’re good enough to do it.”
Alongside Rashford and Martial, Mason Greenwood has helped Solskjaer form one of the most dangerous front lines in English football right now, the youngster having netted 16 goals in all competitions this season and earning rave reviews from fans and pundits alike.
The 18-year-old has started the last six of United’s Premier League games, though Solskjaer isn’t concerned by the physical demands being placed on the young prodigy ahead of the FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea on Sunday.
“He’s coped really well with the demands on him,” said Solskjaer. “Of course, throughout the season we’ve managed him as well as we could. He’s come back after the lockdown flying, his sharpness is there, his fitness, he’s gained a few kilos as we all see and he’s gained a lot of experience and confidence in his own abilities.
”So, there’s only two games left of the league, hopefully two in the FA Cup and three or four in the Europa League. He’ll be fine, there’s no chance he’ll burn out. He’s been excellent.”