Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho sent a clear message to French forward Anthony Martial on Wednesday, saying he needs to do more to impress him and comparing his approach unfavourably with that of team-mate Marcus Rashford.
It was the latest example of Mourinho going public with his challenges to a player, after his recent criticisms of full-back Luke Shaw.
Martial joined United in a 36 million-pound move from Monaco in 2015, but this season he has struggled to earn a regular starting place. Even with Zlatan Ibrahimovic rested on Sunday against Chelsea, the 21-year-old was left on the bench.
Speaking before Thursday’s Europa League quarter-final, second-leg against Anderlecht at Old Trafford (10.05pm), Mourinho was asked his thoughts on the France international and whether leaving him on the bench indicated he was not fully satisfied with him.
“We are together now for almost 10 months and the same way I know the players much better now, the players should know me also much better now,” said Mourinho, who opted for Jesse Lingaard and Rashford in attack against Chelsea.
“The same way I know what they like, I think they also know what I like. I have to go in the direction of the players and they have to come in my direction.
“That is the point – that is why Marcus Rashford, even without scoring goals, even without being without a Premier League goal since September, even with that, he was always a player that I trusted, a player that I played, was always a player that I support, because he was always coming in my direction, the direction of what I want from a player, what I want from a Manchester United player,” the United manager said.
“It is about that – we have to know each other better and better and go in the direction. Do I think Anthony has potential? Yes. Do I think he can play successfully for me? Yes, I think. But he needs to give me things that I like very much,” he said.
Mourinho also said that Wayne Rooney could be back on the bench for Thursday’s game if he comes through training on Wednesday without any reaction from an ankle injury.
The fixture stands at 1-1 after the first leg.