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Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has labeled Anthony Martial a future great of Old Trafford following the forward's man of the match performance during their 3-1 win over Derby County in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Friday 29 January. The Frenchman put in a virtuoso performance, which included two assists, to help the Red Devils progress to the fifth round of the cup competition.
Wayne Rooney opened the scoring with a 20-yard curler but United were pegged back following a clinical move which ended in George Thorne leveling the scores for the Rams. But the 20-times English champions were much more dominant in the second half and it was a clever run and goal by Daley Blind which put his team back in the lead before Juan Mata wrapped the game with a clean finish following a tricky run and cutback by Martial down the left wing.
The Dutch manager was initially unhappy with the former AS Monaco forward but was delighted at the end of the game and is confident he will become a favourite at the club in the coming years. Van Gaal has been forced to deploy youngsters Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Guillermo Varela in the full back positions off late due to injuries to his first choice full backs and he was full of praise for their contribution during the entirety of the fourth round clash.
"He started not so good, I think, but I said that to him and after the first 20 minutes he came into the match and he was fabulous. I am very happy that he is a Manchester United player because I think he shall be a great player for Manchester United for a long time," Van Gaal told MUTV following the 3-1 win at the Pride Park Stadium.
"It was unbelievable but he [Blind] sniffed the chance and that is why he can score. I also have to say that the youngsters did well too, so I cannot complain."
The Old Trafford club have been struggling for form and consistency in recent months and have managed just two wins in their last Premier League games. They were also knocked out of the Champions League in the group stages, which has put tremendous pressure on the former Bayern Munich manager in recent weeks with his future at the club called into question.
Van Gaal, however, has denied speculation regarding his offer to resign pre-maturely and believes his team's confidence has returned following their dominant win over Derby in the FA Cup.
"We have won almost every game in 2016 — against Southampton we lost and that was because of the lack of confidence. We played at home and the fans were supporting us, so it [our performance] was a little bit ridiculous. But that's how it was."
"Now the confidence is back, we dared to play again and in spite of the pressure of Derby County in the second half we met that pressure, we created chances and we scored fantastic goals I have to say. The second and third were fantastic combinations and fantastic finishes as well," the Dutch manager explained.