Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first Old Trafford game as manager of Manchester United held a curious absentee. The starting lineup, and in fact, the squad itself, was bereft of Anthony Martial.
Under Jose Mourinho, this was a common occurrence, since the Portuguese gaffer wasn’t confident in the abilities of the young Frenchman.
Under the Norwegian, however, Martial had shown impeccable form and was one of the best performers in the 5-1 Cardiff victory.
As of such, the absence on Boxing Day was viewed quite conspicuously and murmurs were strong among supporters. However, the caretaker manager has since provided an update.
Speaking ahead of the Huddersfield Town fixture, Solskjaer revealed: “He must have had a bad chef over Christmas – he has fallen ill. If it is food poisoning or if it is something else, I don’t know. The other two (changes) are just changes that I think are right for this game.”
This is quite an unfortunate turn of events for the 23-year-old, who is presently the side’s top scorer and would have been hoping to get things rolling now that Mourinho is no longer at the helm of the club.
Christmas breaks are common during this time of the year, but missing out on a home game due to food poisoning is a stroke of bad luck.
Regardless, Old Trafford will be keen on seeing whether their beloved striker from the past can continue to instill an attacking philosophy into the side or whether the result in Wales was a one-game wonder.
It is clear that Solskjaer wishes to bring back to the club what has been missing since the days of Sir Alex Ferguson. In a player like Martial, who is pacey up-front and ever hungry to score goals, United have the perfect talent to achieve just that, if not more.