Jose Mourinho has suggested that one reason for Anthony Martial’s struggles with Manchester United this season is that the team is different than the one he joined during his breakout 2015-16 campaign under then-manager Louis van Gaal.
Martial, 20, was one of the few bright spots at Old Trafford during an underwhelming final season under Van Gaal, leading the team with 11 goals while adding a further four assists.
But this year the France international has not always made the selection for Mourinho’s XI and in some cases the matchday squad, as was the case in Thursday’s 4-0 Europa League win against Feyenoord.
Mourinho told a news conference that it is difficult for Martial this season because of the intense competition for places with teammates like Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford, Memphis Depay and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
“Martial was OK for this game. It was just an option. He played last Sunday [against Arsenal],” Mourinho said. “I cannot play with 12 players. I cannot have on the bench 19, 20.
“You wanted to see Mkhitaryan and I wanted to too. I cannot play all of them at the same time. It was just an option. The players have to win their positions.
“They are friends, they are colleagues who work together every day but in the end they compete between themselves to have more chance to play. Anthony played against Arsenal. Thursday was a moment to give a chance for Mkhitaryan to start.”
The Portuguese also believes the system under Van Gaal may have been more suited to the France internationals strengths and that Martial, who has scored just once in the league this season, is still adapting to the style Mourinho prefers.
He said: “First of all the teams are very different. The way the team played last season — I’m not saying better or worse, just different — was probably more adaptive to Anthony.
“He was probably more comfortable playing that way, at that intensity, at that rate of ball possession and ball circulation. Probably he also needs some time but in our squad, especially in these positions, we have Mkhitaryan, Lingard, Depay, Mata, Rashford.
“These are probably the positions where we have more options. You have one opportunity, you have two, you have three — if you don’t bite then somebody comes and takes the bait.”
Culled from ESPNFC