A Red Devils legend singled out the Frenchman for praise following a thrilling derby victory against Manchester City over the weekend
Manchester United striker Anthony Martial has stepped his game up since Odion Ighalo’s arrival at Old Trafford, according to Roy Keane.
Martial has scored in three of United’s last five games across all competitions, with his latest strike coming in a 2-0 home victory over noisy neighbours Manchester City.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer got the better of Pep Guardiola for the third time this season on Sunday, as his side produced another combative performance against the reigning Premier League champions.
January signing Bruno Fernandes recorded his third assist in United colours after finding Martial with an inventive free-kick on the half-hour mark, which the France international met with a well-placed volley that slipped through Ederson’s fingers and into the City net.
Scott McTominay capitalised on another Ederson error to double the scoring in stoppage time, after great hold-up play from substitute Ighalo, another of United’s winter acquisitions who appears to have lifted the rest of the squad.
Keane believes the Shanghai Shenhua loanee has provoked a “good reaction” from Martial, who is now working hard to retain a spot in Solskjaer’s starting XI.
“You’ve had a reaction as well from Martial,” the United legend told Sky Sports post-match. “Sometimes a new striker comes in, you praise the new striker, but then that pushes the other lads.
“There’s almost been a reaction from Martial, thinking: ‘Oh, I’ve got another player to fight with for my position’. And there’s been a good reaction.”
Keane went on to praise Luke Shaw for his contribution and Solskjaer for masterminding another “big game” win, before urging United to build on the result by beating Tottenham next week.
“I’ve been critical of some of the players. But people like [Luke] Shaw and [Anthony] Martial, you know, they’ve done well today. I have to give credit for that,” Keane said.
“And it’s a big boost for Ole for a number of reasons. I think United had to win a big game at home sometime.
“It’s okay away from home on the counter-attack, but it’s Manchester United, we have to win big games at home.
“The atmosphere around the place is fantastic and Ole and the players deserve huge credit.
“But of course now, I keep saying, when you get a big win, you’ve gotta follow it up, Tottenham next week, with another victory.”
Despite the fact that City dominated possession in the second half, Keane felt United were always comfortable and was delighted to see the Old Trafford crowd get behind the players in such a crucial fixture.
“For all City’s possession, they weren’t dangerous really,” he said. “They were playing a front four, [Raheem] Sterling didn’t do enough, they weren’t making any darting runs, nobody running off the ball.
“It was easy for United. If people are playing in front of you, it’s very, very easy. But also it was the dogged performance that pleased probably the supporters as well.
“It wasn’t pretty, they stuck at it, the fans stayed right behind them and I think the goal right at the end was fantastic. I’ve not really seen the atmosphere like this for a long time.”
Keane added on United proving they can compete with the elite once again by getting the better of City: “I think Ole needed it, the club, I’ve mentioned earlier, for their recovery and if they can get back to the very top.
“But brilliant, brilliant performance. Not pretty, it was dogged. To me, they showed a lot of pride, a lot of spirit.
“Brilliant, just great to be here. I really enjoyed it.”