Martial proves he's worth the investment
Martial justifies hefty price tag with superb brace
(Graziano Pelle 13, 86)
MAN UNITED 3
(Anthony Martial 34, 50, Juan Mata 68)
What Louis van Gaal previously considered "ridiculous" is now kick-starting his Manchester United reign.
The Dutchman insisted that Anthony Martial was bought for the benefit of the next manager at Old Trafford.
He has already shown himself to be beneficial in the interim.
Visits to Southampton invariably trigger haunting memories of United's infamous 6-3 hammering in 1996, blamed on an "invisible" grey kit worn during a shambolic first-half performance.
Van Gaal's Black Watch did not require such an excuse at St Mary's last night.
Amid talks of legacies and nurturing the future, Martial's stock remained in ascendancy as he turned the tide on the south coast with second and third goals in successive English Premier League outings.
Juan Mata's strike was little more than a footnote.
Fortune played its part, as Mata was allowed to redeem himself from an offside position in the build-up, but Martial's increasing status as United's latest striking terror, with two goals inside 75 minutes of EPL action, deserves unmitigated acclaim.
Ronald Koeman had largely out-thought his compatriot.
Maya Yoshida subdued Memphis Depay while Graziano Pelle was able to get the better of Daley Blind, not least when he pounced with an early strike after David de Gea had parried Saido Mane's snap shot.
But Southampton's profligacy came back to haunt them as Martial provided a showcase that made his £36 million ($78.3m) price tag appear increasingly to be a snip.
Twisting and turning past Virgil van Dijk, his opening strike possessed the hallmarks which gave rise to comparisons with Thierry Henry and punished Southampton's profligacy.
A second, pouncing on a poor back-pass from Yoshida, boasted the instinct of a bona-fide poacher.
Though not homegrown by United's traditional standards - their record with academy graduates remains unbroken after 3,753 games - Martial still promises to continue in the ethos which served both Sir Matt Busby and Sir Alex Ferguson incredibly well.
Van Gaal's own track record in that field is well documented.
Patrick Kluivert, Clarence Seedorf and Edgar Davids were nurtured to stardom during his time at Ajax; likewise Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and Victor Valdes at Barcelona.
Latterly, Thomas Mueller flourished under his tutelage at Bayern Munich.
Marrying those traditional values with his own ability to develop burgeoning talent is ensuring that style and substance can again go hand in hand at Old Trafford, with the countdown on his tenure already begun, with little over 18 months remaining.
BY THE NUMBERS
Anthony Martial is only the third player to score in both of his first two EPL appearances for Manchester United, after Louis Saha and Federico Macheda.