Louis van Gaal backed Anthony Martial to shine at Manchester United after the world’s most expensive teenager exploded onto the Premier League stage with a superb debut goal in Saturday’s 3-1 win against Liverpool.
Signed from Monaco on transfer deadline day for a reported initial fee of £36 million that even the United manager admitted was “ridiculous”, French striker Martial had been dismissed in some quarters as a panic buy.
But the hefty price tag didn’t seem to bother the 19-year-old, who came on as a 65th minute substitute and settled one of English football’s heavyweight clashes with a devastating knockout blow.
Van Gaal’s side were clinging to a 2-1 lead in the 86th minute when Martial took possession on the left, surged past Martin Skrtel and cut inside before calmly steering his shot into the far corner to cap a memorable United debut.
“When you make a goal like Anthony you cannot wish for more I think,” van Gaal said.
“A lot of players have made a debut and scored with me so it’s a good signal.”
Asked if he was relieved to see Martial impress so quickly after the criticism of his signing, van Gaal insisted he had been confident in the youngster’s ability to thrive in the Premier League.
“We have scouted him and we wanted him because he’s the best in his age, he needs time,” he said.
“He’s been with us for three days, that is too short to judge his personality but he made a very good impression in first three days, that’s why I selected him to be on the bench.
“He scored a marvellous goal and physically he can play in the Premier League.”
With his English not yet up to scratch, Martial is currently communicating with his new teammates through the team’s France international Morgan Schneiderlin, not that United winger Ashley Young has any complaints.
“Morgan Schneiderlin is the translator but if he talks like that on the pitch, that’s all we need,” Young said.
Martial could find himself thrust into a leading role when United open their Champions League group stage campaign against PSV Eindhoven on Tuesday because van Gaal has already ruled Wayne Rooney out of the tie.
United captain Rooney was forced to miss the Liverpool win with a hamstring injury suffered in training after he returned from the international break.
“I don’t think he should play Tuesday, we don’t want to take any risks with our captain but you never know. It’s Saturday and we still have Sunday and Monday,” van Gaal said of Rooney.