Jose Mourinho hopes Anthony Martial’s goal against Stoke City will help to fire the Manchester United forward back towards his best form.
Martial ended a 10-game drought by coming off the bench to score an impressive 69th-minute opener at Old Trafford, but United could not hold on as Joe Allen equalised for the Premier League strugglers eight minutes from time.
The France international has failed to hit the heights under Mourinho thus far, but his manager believes Sunday’s breakthrough could mark a turning point.
“He needs that,” said the Portuguese. “Amazing goal, and very good initiative for his confidence, from his personal point of view.”
Other United players were not so clinical in front of goal, with Stoke goalkeeper Lee Grant making excellent saves to thwart Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Jesse Lingard, while Paul Pogba spurned a pair of gilt-edged chances before hitting the crossbar in the final minute.
Nevertheless, Mourinho was in no mood to repeat recent criticisms of his players.
“I never criticise my players for missing chances,” he said. “Their goalkeeper is the man of the match and obviously deservedly.
“There was the post too, there are chances when we could do better, but I don’t criticise my players. There were naive mistakes sometimes. We should not just be with three points, but also with a fat result.
“Today was the best performance [of the season] from the minute one. Everything was beautiful, the first chance was beautiful.
“Paul’s chance it was beautiful football. It was frustrating, but the performance was there.”
Mourinho once again left Wayne Rooney on the bench and was reluctant to discuss the forward’s expected retention as England captain by caretaker national boss Gareth Southgate.
“With England he’s in the hands of Southgate. I never interfere with that,” Mourinho added.
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