Manchester United fans have been focusing their attention this summer on which prospective new signings will make the team better after a frankly dismal end to last season, but the improvement and cause for optimism doesn't solely have to come from new faces alone.


There is still some deadwood in the squad, there can be no question about that, but there is also still so much untapped potential yet to be unleashed in the right set of circumstances.

Perth Glory v Manchester United

Having performed a U-turn on his apparent desire to leave the previous summer and pledged his future to the club with a new long-term contract, Anthony Martial was one of the worst culprits as performance levels fell off a cliff in the final two months of 2018/19.


He looked once more as though he wasn't interested and didn't want to be there.


The Frenchman, who was part of the United quartet to reach double figures in the Premier League, scored most of his goal in a flurry for Jose Mourinho in October and November. But he then netted just three times in 14 Premier League games in total under Solskjaer - which became only two in all competitions after securing his bumper new deal at the end of January.


There was gossip in May that Martial was on thin ice at Old Trafford because of a poor attitude. A viral video that appeared to show a total lack of effort during the warm up for a game against Chelsea was said to have left Solskjaer 'unhappy', while the United boss was generally 'dismayed' and 'running out of patience' with a player who didn't seem to be giving his all.

FBL-ENG-PR-MAN UTD-CARDIFF

Some reports alleged that Solskjaer was ready to get rid of the Frenchman and it prompted a bizarre defence from the player's management company, highlighting his career statistics to those of United legends Ryan Giggs, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo at similar ages.


Incredibly, it was then reported that Martial was only staying at Old Trafford because co-owner Joel Glazer had vetoed Solskjaer's request to sell him. It was said that not only is Martial one of Glazer's favourite players, he sees the French forward as the club's own version of Pele.


For Martial to go from there, with his future looking bleak once more, to Solskjaer now singing his praises in pre-season for an 'improving' work rate just two months later is very promising indeed and tantamount to having another new signing at the club.

Anthony Martial,Liam Cooper

As much as Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka have been impressive in early friendlies, and as much as fans look forward to potentially signing Harry Maguire, maybe Bruno Fernandes, having a player with the ability of Martial suddenly working hard is like a fresh arrival.


"Anthony can be a world-class forward. The way he has come back to pre-season now, how he is in training, his attitude is absolutely spot-on. There are a couple of instances that you can see with Anthony, in the way he works for the team," Solskjaer said on Friday, via ManUtd.com.


"He has got the quality and talent. He's going to score goals and his work-rate is improving. I expect him and Marcus [Rashford] to be even better than last season.


"Of course, Anthony's had a top season when he came in his first season. He was top scorer and he's had a couple of seasons since then when he's not really hit that amount of goals and quality. I'm sure we will see a better Anthony this year."

Always innately talented, a Martial with a good or 'spot on' attitude is a completely different prospect to a Martial who wasn't giving his all. Add him to an attacking unit that has been electrified by the raw speed of James, the emergence of Mason Greenwood and the increasing maturity of Marcus Rashford and Juan Mata at last in a 'number 10' role, things are looking up.


It is easy to forget Martial was a teenager when he joined United and is still only 23 years of age even now. He's not at the end or even the middle of his career, he's barely past the beginning.