Manchester United have steadily progressed under Jose Mourinho after a stuttering start to the season. Since their 4-0 defeat to Chelsea in October, they have gone 13 games undefeated and are on course to break into the top four.
The Red Devils will be looking to maintain their unbeaten run when they take on Hull City at Old Trafford on Wednesday night. United are overwhelming favourites to win this tie, as per the latest Premier League betting odds, having won each of their last five matches against them.
Mourinho made nine changes for the Wigan game, but United still managed to win 4-0 last Sunday in the FA Cup. The Red Devils managed to field ten internationals against Wigan which shows their depth in quality. However, Mourinho is likely to make a few changes to the side in midweek, as United are looking to close down the gap with their rivals.
One of the players who will drop out of the starting XI is Anthony Martial. The Frenchman’s relationship with Mourinho has hit an all-time low because of his lack of game time this season. The 21-year-old joined United in 2015 for an eye-catching £58m transfer fee; but recently he has become disenchanted with life under Mourinho.
Mourinho said last week that Martial would start against Hull if he was “magnificent” against Wigan in the FA Cup. The youngster produced a fairly good performance, setting up two goals against the Sky Championship side. However, it seems that Mourinho is still not particularly impressed.
The Portuguese said, as quoted by The Times:
He [Martial] 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 [against Wigan]? I can’t.
The players pick themselves. I am there to analyse what they do and try to be fair. Such a good performance, Mkhitaryan has to play. Simple.
Martial’s case is a really curious one. It is reminiscent of the treatment faced by Juan Mata at Chelsea under Mourinho, ultimately leading to his departure. He is an exciting young player, and the only way his game will improve is by getting regular games under his belt. Mourinho keeps on banging the same drum that United have lots of players competing for the same position. However, that assertion is only partially true.
Martial plays on the left hand side and loves to take on the defenders with pace and trickery. The likes of Mata, Mkhitaryan or Lingard doesn’t exactly play in that role. The only real competitor Martial has is Marcus Rashford, who is a natural striker, but has been forced to play wide.
Mourinho has risked making Martial even more upset with his decision, and somewhere it gives the impression that the Frenchman is being harshly treated. United fans won’t mind though as long as their team is winning.