Louis van Gaal has urged critics to lay off Anthony Martial and says the forward will return to form for Manchester United if afforded more time.
Martial will bear the responsibility of ending United’s woeful record in front of goal in Tuesday’s must-win Champions League clash at Wolfsburg – despite the Frenchman scoring just once in his last 13 matches.
Martial will be United’s only available striker against the Bundesliga side in the wake of a crippling injury crisis, but despite recent criticism of the player, Van Gaal insists Martial will soon return to form if given time to develop.
“He is very talented but he is just 20 years old,” Van Gaal said of the forward, who scored four goals in his first four matches following a £36million transfer from Monaco in September.
“We have to give him time and that’s always difficult when you are playing for a team like Manchester United because the expectations are very high.
“But I am very convinced that he will continue with his performances, and that he shall score at the right moment again.
“You cannot expect of a 20-year-old player coming to the Premier League that he scores every week.
“I didn’t expect it either. When he came he was accelerating in the start of his campaign at Manchester United. I know that and I have to explain it to everybody because he doesn’t need that pressure to score every match.”
Like it or lump it, Martial will have to deal with that pressure on Tuesday.
He is the only recognised striker in a squad that contains Nick Powell, who has only played one game for United in the last three years, Sean Goss, who is yet to make his debut, and 18-year-old defender Cameron Borthwick-Jackson.
Guillermo Varela made his debut in the 0-0 draw against West Ham on Saturday but could be thrown into the starting XI on Tuesday.