The Italian, after initially struggling for a place in the first team under Mourinho, has recently managed to establish himself in the starting XI, featuring in six of the side’s last eight games.
But Darmian, speaking to ManUtd.com, has made it clear that he is focused on impressing Mourinho this season.
“Now a great full-back isn’t just one who stops every attack, but also gets forward wherever possible because the attacking demands have increased,” he said.
“We need to help our strikers and wingers more than before, but we have to be focused also behind, because defending is still the most important thing.
“Those duties mean it is important that you are smart and focused all the time.
“Good technique helps and, of course, more and more it is important that you are a strong runner because you have to get up and down the pitch.
“If you look around at the best full-backs in the world today, they all have those attributes.
“For me it is quite easy to change sides from right to left.
“When I was younger I did work hard on my left foot to make it stronger and, even now, I think it is important to do that during the week because it is my weaker side and I know that I have to keep improving it.”
The first time I saw Darmian play was, like many of us, during England’s 2-1 defeat to Italy in the 2014 World Cup. In the searing Amazonian heat, the Italian was relentless, bombing up and down the right flank with reckless abandon. Leighton Baines has never been the same since.
This was a player brimming with fearlessness and energy, hellbent on pinning England’s left-hand side back all game. The footballing world lauded the timelessly brilliant Andrea Pirlo during the aftermath, but I found myself obsessing over Darmian’s performance (and, of course, England’s continued ineptitude at major tournaments, but that’s another story in itself).
Since joining Man United, however, the Italian has only impressed going forward on a sporadic basis, perhaps inundated by the Premier League’s considerably greater levels of speed and physicality. That said, Darmian, with Luke Shaw still lurking in the backwaters at Old Trafford, could start to show that raw energy and power going forward if he continues to receive opportunities in the first team.