Jose Mourinho has insisted that Anthony Martial can learn from how Henrikh Mkhitaryan reasserted himself at Manchester United this season.
Mkhitaryan, following a shaky first start against Manchester City, spent almost three months on the sidelines before receiving another chance to feature in the starting XI and quickly returned to his spellbinding best upon his return.
And the Frenchman, in recent weeks, has encountered a similar predicament, with his only Premier League start this year coming against Liverpool.
Mourinho, speaking after Man United’s 3-0 win over Leicester City (another game where Martial remained on the bench), noted that Martial can take heed from how Mkhitaryan responded to being left out at Old Trafford.
Mourinho on Mkhitaryan: "Sometimes the best way to protect the players is to not play them."
— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) February 5, 2017
The 54-year-old’s treatment of the Armenian earlier this season was widely lambasted by supporters and pundits. Why, after all, would Mourinho spend £27m on the Bundesliga Player of the Season and continue to leave him out at a time where his side desperately lacked any cutting edge going forward?
But this period of absence was, somewhat ironically, the best thing that could have happened to Mkhitaryan. The 28-year-old had a chance to watch the game from another angle, to rethink his approach, to observe the tenets of the English game and learn.
Something similar could indeed help Martial gather his thoughts, reflect on the past few months and go again, this time with a renewed sense of determination.