Ian Wright believes Anthony Martial could do with starting his Manchester United career like he started his at Arsenal – with a goal in his first game and a hattrick in his second.
The world’s most expensive teenager isn’t even guaranteed to be included in United’s matchday squad for their game against Liverpool on Saturday evening, but that hasn’t stopped people discussing just what he needs to do to justify his mega price tag.
Speaking to the BBC, Wrighty said “The best scenario, especially for a forward player, is obviously that he hits the ground running at his new club by scoring some goals straightaway.
“There was pressure on me when I joined Arsenal for what was then a club record fee of £2.5m in September 1991 but I scored in my first game, got a hat-trick in my second and never looked back.
“Any pressure disappeared and, instead, I was full of confidence.
“The way I looked at it then was that I could go four games without scoring and my average would still be good but the way I was feeling, I knew more goals would come – and they did.”
As you’ve no doubt heard 1,000 times already, it is not Wright that Martial is being compared to, but Thierry Henry and, like the Gunners legend, it’s more likely that Martial will need a little time before he starts firing for United.
Wright continued “Not every player gets off to a flying start like I did at Arsenal. Also for the Gunners, Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp both had to wait a while to get off the mark.
“I have heard Martial being compared to Henry a lot because of his playing style and the way he can come off the left or right wing as well as down the middle.
“That is great if it is true and, if he is not an out-and-out striker, he will need to be able to make goals for others like Henry could.
“Yes, those comparisons add even more pressure but they are inevitable because both players left Monaco at a young age and came to England for big money – Henry had a brief spell at Juventus in between, but his £10.5m fee was the third-biggest in English football when he came to Highbury in 1999.
“Henry, who was a couple of years older than Martial and a lot more experienced at first-team level, scored 26 goals in his first season for Arsenal, but did not find the net until his ninth game for the club.
“There is an argument that Henry’s early days are an example of why Martial will need time before showing us what he can do.
“That is true, but I still saw Henry’s ability in those first few games. I had left Arsenal by then but on his left foot or right foot, he had skill and athleticism and was such a dynamic player.
“He was not scoring goals but I remember looking at him and thinking ‘wow – when he kicks in, he is going to be awesome’.”