Jose Mourinho has been hard on Anthony Martial in recent weeks in an attempt to bring the most out of the French striker and his justification for doing so was that he hadn’t done enough to earn his place in a regular starting XI.
Seeing Martial’s second half performance against Wigan Athletic last weekend in the FA Cup, it looked like the tough love was working because he sparkled with a showing that, in my eyes, put him back in the good books. Alas, Mourinho didn’t deter from his path and said it was only enough to earn him a spot on the bench for Hull City.
However, I fail to see any way Mourinho can justify keeping Martial out of Man United’s starting team anymore after Wednesday night’s showing against Hull City.
First things first, something which has been strange about this whole debacle is Mourinho using Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s form as a reason for why Martial can’t get in the side. Why? They play on different wings. Mkhitaryan has always operated on the right and Martial on the left, neither player should influence the other’s ability to get in the team. If anything, both should be starting as it is United’s best options on the wings. On top of that, Mkhitaryan was ineffectual against Hull as well to the point where he was taken off.
I also don’t think Marcus Rashford showed enough on the left flank to offer competition to Martial. To be fair to him, United played down the right a lot more but he failed to impact the game enough to keep his place in the team. If Mourinho is saying Martial doesn’t take his opportunities enough, the same logic has to apply to every other player equally. If it doesn’t, then Mourinho’s reasons could well be personal as well as professional.
For the most part, Mourinho’s treatment of Mourinho has simply been a case of whether or not you agree with his style of management. Some want a softer, arm around the shoulder approach but others feel what worked with Mkhitaryan should work with Martial. I fall somewhere towards the latter because I don’t think there is a need to question and criticise everything Mourinho says.
However, we’re now at a crossroads. After a dismal draw at home to the Premier League’s bottom side in a game we showed no real quality in attack, Mourinho has to bring Martial back for Leicester City on Sunday. Were he to leave him out and continue with Rashford and Mkhitaryan, fans could then start questioning whether or not the relationship between the pair has soured behind the scenes.