Manchester (United States) (AFP) – Anthony Martial still has work to do to convince Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho he is worthy of a regular starting place in his Premier League line-up.
French forward Martial, signed from Monaco in 2015, has endured a difficult season since Mourinho’s arrival.
Martial has scored just two league goals this term and has drawn criticism recently from his manager, leading to speculation that he might be leaving Old Trafford during the January transfer window.
No move has materialised and Mourinho was adamant that the 21-year-old would be staying with the club.
Martial was handed a starting opportunity in the weekend FA Cup win over Championship club Wigan.
He improved after a poor first-half showing, assisting on two goals in the 4-0 victory.
But as Mourinho prepared for his side’s next fixture, a home Premier League meeting with Hull on Wednesday, the United manager revealed Martial still has some way to go if he is to regain his trust.
“He has done enough to be on the bench,” said Mourinho. “He has to perform better than the others who are competing for the same positions.
“His position is one where we have lots of options. Do you want me to leave Mkhitaryan out after being man of the match and playing so well as he did? I can’t.
“The players pick themselves. I am just there to analyse what they do and try to be fair with them. Such a good performance, Mkhitaryan has to play tomorrow. Simple.”
The Wigan victory maintained United’s interest in all four competitions in which they started the season.
And despite a gruelling February ahead, in which they will play seven fixtures in all four tournaments, Mourinho insists he will not follow the example set by a number of Premier League rivals who fielded severely weakened line-ups in the FA Cup at the weekend.
– ‘Mistake’ –
“I don’t do it,” said Mourinho. “Even if I am the manager of a club without the same ambitions as us, especially in the FA Cup.
“I did it once, in my first year in England, I understood the mistake. I understood the dimensions of my decision.
“It was a period where we had to play Barcelona in the Champions League. We went direct to the League Cup final against Liverpool.
“In that period we played Newcastle in the FA Cup and I threw it away. I understood the dimension. The FA Cup deserves respect.
“I don’t do that. If I am changing players I do it because I have to give chances to some other players. I have to give rest to some others.
“I will change players against Blackburn because I have to give players a chance. I will change but I am not going with a team with seven kids. I can’t do that. I will risk but I can’t do that.”
Similarly, Mourinho claimed that he will treat the Europa League with equal seriousness as it offers the chance of Champions League football next season should United advance past Saint-Etienne in the last 32 and go on to win the trophy.
“Personally, I miss the Champions League,” he said. “Every match I don’t play in the Champions League means an incredible number of matches is not going up.
“I am the youngest one to be in the club of 100. Every time I don’t play I am not happy.
“But obviously Manchester United is much more important than me and my individual targets.
“What matters is Manchester United and as everyone knows, Manchester United is a club that belongs to the Champions League.”
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