Anthony Martial now understands what he has to do win regular selection for Manchester United, according to manager Jose Mourinho.
Eight days after spearheading United’s turnaround at Chelsea, 22-year-old Martial starred again with an influential performance in the 2-1 win over Everton.
The French forward, who reportedly rejected the club’s offer of a contract extension this week, won the penalty for Paul Pogba’s opener and curled in a splendid goal of his own after half-time.
Martial has had to wait patiently for opportunities at Old Trafford but appears to have finally won over his manager.
‘I think he coped well with his development process. It took quite a long time to understand what we want from him,’ Mourinho said after the match.
‘It took quite a long time for his brain but also his body to be ready to play the way we want him to play.
‘He is understanding now things that he didn’t before, and he wants to play and he knows that to play and to be consistent in the team he has to go in a certain direction. He’s finding that direction.
‘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, there are matches where you are not going to score.
‘But in these matches where you don’t score, where you don’t assist, where your creation is not at the high level, but you have a certain balance in your performance, that’s where I think he is going well.’
As for apportioning credit for Martial’s re-emergence, Mourinho added: ‘Well if when the players are playing bad it’s my fault then when the players are playing well it’s my responsibility!
‘Let’s be honest, or [get to the heart] of it, which I think is fair, and say when a player plays bad it’s half me and half the player, and when the player plays well it’s half me and half the player.’
An upbeat Mourinho also backed Pogba to continue as the club’s penalty-taker despite the midfielder admitting his stuttering run-up requires a rethink after Jordan Pickford initially denied him in the first half.
‘I like the player that wants to take it. And Paul wants to take [penalties], and that for me is fantastic. If he misses, he misses,’ the Portuguese said.
‘Can he improve his penalties? I think he can. I think the goalkeepers now know his run-up and they don’t move, they are waiting until the last second for his decision. So I think he probably has to learn from that.’