Anthony Martial has spoken of how Jose Mourinho has helped to improve his game on a tactical level for Manchester United this season.
The Frenchman looked destined to leave Old Trafford in the summer following a miserable second half of the 2017/18 campaign during which he failed to register a goal or an assist.
But his resurgence this season has been magnificent: six goals in as many Premier League games, eight in all competitions, voted the club’s best player in October, and recalled to the France side.
Speaking ahead of Man United’s 1-0 win over Young Boys, Martial opened up about how he has given Mourinho what he wants on a tactical level since September.
“The key to it is playing games,” he said. “For me, when you play in a game, that’s when you get back your enjoyment and you start to pick up your form once again.”
“If you don’t feature regularly and you only take part in training sessions, you might still be in decent form but it’s not the same as when you are playing in matches.”
“So yeah, I hope that I can continue to put together a good run of games and perform well in them. I think that [my improvement] is more on a tactical level. I try and take up good positions so I can best help out my team.
“I have been trying to work harder defensively too, and to really try and help out the side when we aren’t in possession of the ball. We work a lot on tactics and I try and do my best. I listen carefully to the advice of all the coaching staff we have here and I find that this helps me a lot.”
The problem with Martial, at least to Mourinho, was never his talent but rather the kind of application he offered on the pitch.
For Mourinho, a good performance is constituted by the level of balance and maturity in your performance. Are you in tune with the game or not? Is your running not just hard but smart enough?
And as Mourinho noted after the youngster scored against Everton, Martial has started to reach a threshold of application the 55-year-old considers necessary.
“He’s understanding now things he didn’t before,” he said. “His performance today without the goal would be a good performance and what I want from him is exactly that.”
“You cannot score every time you play but in these matches, where you don’t score and you don’t assist, where your creation is not at a high level, but you have a certain balance in your performance.”