Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has often been criticised for the way in which he has dealt with certain players over his years in management, and that has not changed since his arrival at Old Trafford.
Upon making a move to the red half of Manchester, Mourinho began a mass examination and overhaul of his squad, making wholescale changes with the additions of Eric Bailly, Paul Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic effectively giving the Portuguese’s side a brand new spine.
While those additions have begun to prove a success, some players have inevitably fallen by the wayside.
German World Cup winner Bastian Schweinstieger has, despite being included in the squad for the next round of Europa League fixtures, been exiled for the majority of the season, even to the point of having been left out of the club’s assets at the start of the term.
Furthermore, fellow Louis van Gaal signings, Memphis Depay and Morgan Schneiderlin were both sold in the summer having been left out for large swathes of the first half of the season and are now both first team regulars at Lyon and Everton, respectively.
Another who seemed to have been all but ousted from the squad was former Monaco striker, and another addition from Van Gaal’s reign, Anthony Martial, who arrived at the club in 2015 for a world-record fee for a teenager.
The France international, who has been told by Mourinho that he needs to up his game to be included in his starting XI on a more regular basis was given a chance against Hull City in the EFL Cup semi-final second leg loss, and did not look comfortable until he scored a disallowed goal and added an assist late on.
However, given another chance against Watford, who United capitulated against in a 3-1 loss at Vicarage Road earlier this term, Martial was not going to let it slide by once again.
The manner in which he took his goal, holding off for longer than many would before cleverly slotting home with a neat finish, was one of a striker in a rich vein of form, not one who is, as some have suggested, fighting for his future at a club.
Mourinho’s man management may not always work, he claimed that he wanted to keep hold of those he sold off in January, however, would have rarely utilised them to any effect. In this instance, though, he may have pulled it off.
It is, of course, only one game, but in pushing Martial close to the brink and making him realise just what is at stake whilst he is in the hot seat, before pulling him back into the fold, the former Chelsea boss may just have awoken exactly what the young forward needs to kick on ahead of what is set to be a thrilling chase for Champions League football.