France coach Didier Deschamps has noted that Anthony Martial was not living up to expectations under Jose Mourinho earlier on in the season.
The youngster struggled to replicate his usual pomp during the opening few months of the 2016/17 campaign, leading to his eventual omission from the national side ahead of the November international break.
Deschamps noted at the time that Martial’s failure to produce on a regular basis under Mourinho was the reason behind his exclusion from the French national team.
The 48-year-old, speaking to L’Equipe, noted that Martial failed to satisfy the demands placed on him by Mourinho during the nascent stages of the campaign.
“Last season he played a lot and was a regular too,” he said.
“Jose Mourinho expected certain things for him, which he didn’t see in him earlier in the season; Anthony is playing, not all the time, but it’s not bad.
“He knows when he is on the pitch, he will have to perform thoroughly.”
Martial doesn’t need to be told that the first few months of his season were not good enough. You can point to a number of factors that may have contributed to his malaise: Mourinho’s different approach to how a winger should perform; off-pitch distractions; the fact that, actually, he is far from the finished article, but rather embarking on just his third full season at the highest level.
But this dip in form will now feel like something of a distant memory for Martial. His manager, back in January, placed before him a task: to demonstrate whether or not he had the mettle – the raw desire – to occupy a place in the starting XI, leaving him out of the side and forcing him to forge his way back into the side. Needless to say, he has responded in emphatic fashion over the last few weeks.