August 25, 2017
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho believes both Anthony Martial and Henrikh Mkhitaryan will improve this season. Speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s Premier League game at Old Trafford against Leicester City, Mourinho heaped praise on Martial and Mkhitaryan. The manager first highlighted the ‘talent’ of the French winger. Before acknowledging the ‘good’ second half to last season that Mkhitaryan enjoyed, as the Armenian helped the Reds lift the UEFA Europa League in May.
Manchester United’s Portuguese manager told journalists at the AON Training Complex that Martial is ‘blessed with talent’.
“I think when you have some talent, you cannot waste it, I think when you’re blessed with some talent, you have to fulfil that talent, you have to explore that talent, you cannot be happy just with glimpses of talent. I want more from him because he has all the qualities for that. But I think he understands me better too and the personal relation [between us] is good, so again Anthony, I hope he’s going to better this season than last season.”
Last season, Anthony Martial only scored four goals in 25 Premier League appearances, assisting on six occasions. His contribution to Manchester United’s Europa League triumph was also minimal, as the France international only scored one goal, a penalty in the group stage against Fenerbahce.
In contrast, Martial has started the 2017/18 Premier League campaign very well, considering he has only played 25 minutes in the two matches so far. The French winger has already scored twice and assisted once in his two substitute appearances against West Ham United and Swansea City. Signed from Monaco in August 2015 for an initial £36 million, Martial will be now looking to recapture the form he produced in his first season at Old Trafford, after struggling somewhat in 2016/17.
On Friday, Jose Mourinho detailed how his understanding of Mkhitaryan both as a person and a player has developed since the Armenian midfielder joined Manchester United in July 2016 from Borussia Dortmund.
“I think Henrikh [Mkhitaryan] understands me, and to be honest, I understand him because in the beginning of the season if he understands me better, he would have started better. But at the same time, if I understand him better, I would probably help him in a faster way than I did. But, we spent our time together, working together, learning about each other. The second part of last season was good for him and I believe, with his talent, that this season is going to be even better”
Last season, Mkhitaryan’s best performances came in the Europa League. The Armenian scored six goals in ten Europa League starts to help Manchester United lift the trophy in Stockholm. Whereas in the Premier League, Mkhitaryan only scored four goals in 24 appearances. Although, one of the four was his scorpion kick goal that earned him the Manchester United Goal of the Season award.
Jose Mourinho is clearly confident that Mkhitaryan will improve this season and thus far, the Armenian is repaying his manager’s faith in him. Already, the midfielder has flown past last season’s total of one Premier League assist, setting up two goals in both 4-0 wins so far, this campaign. Armenia’s record goal scorer will be also looking to translate his 2016/17 Europa League goal scoring form into Premier League goals this campaign. Mkhitaryan will be striving to replicate the league form that saw him win the Kicker Bundesliga Player of the Season award, as a Dortmund man in 2015/16.
It is important that both Anthony Martial and Henrikh Mkhitaryan enjoy better seasons this year. As Manchester United look to improve on a sixth place finish in the Premier League, while also mounting a challenge in the Champions League.