Jose Mourinho has implied that Anthony Martial needs to demonstrate a work rate similar to that of Romelu Lukaku or Nemanja Matic in order to receive a regular starting place at Manchester United.
The Frenchman has only made four appearances in a Man United shirt since the January arrival of Alexis Sanchez.
Reports this week, including one from the reliable RMC Sport, have claimed that Martial is open to seeking a new adventure in the summer.
And Mourinho, when asked about the 22-year-old at a press conference, was coy in his response, hinting that Martial could look towards Lukaku and Matic as inspirations.
“If I was you I would go ask why Lukaku plays every match, why Matic plays every match, you always go to the one, the answer is if you want what I call dry answers, I have dry answers and a dry answer is only 11 can start the match and we are 22,” he said.
Jose Mourinho says 'there's nothing I can do' to change Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford's lack of playing time at United. #mufc
— Samuel Luckhurst (@samuelluckhurst) April 13, 2018
Fresh reports that Martial would leave were met with considerable fury on social media, with many fans stating bluntly that they would prefer to see their manager leave than the Frenchman.
You can debate that all you want but the point at the heart of the matter is that supporters get more emotional about Martial than almost anyone else. Why? Because, on his day, the winger is so, so good. Not just effective but gorgeous to watch as well. The way he glides, skips, turns, drifts. He is mesmerising.
But to Mourinho, none of that matters if you are not prepared to run the miles first. There is a kind of intuitive ethic to your play – a tempo of sorts – that you simply need to adopt if you are to earn a regular spot in the starting XI. This is why Jesse Lingard continues to start. This is why the 55-year-old went for Alexis Sanchez.
And what he is saying here, in effect, is that Martial needs to step up in the same way.