Football

Mourinho urges Martial to learn from Mkhitaryan

Mourinho urges out-of-favour French striker to be patient and adapt to new style

Jose Mourinho has urged Anthony Martial to follow midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan's example and force his way back into Manchester United's starting line-up.

Martial has found himself on the fringes of Mourinho's first-team plans, having made four of his 11 Premier League appearances from the bench this season, but the manager said he had no plans to sell the 21-year-old French striker.

"Anthony is very, very young - people forget - and last season, Manchester United played completely differently. He was basically playing up front," Mourinho told British media.

"The team had lots of passive ball possession, just waiting to put it into space for Anthony to go and score a goal.

"This season is more difficult. He needs a little bit of time to improve."

Armenian Mkhitaryan also struggled to get into the side in the early part of the season, but made his breakthrough with a fine display in the Europa League against Zorya Luhansk earlier this month.

"Every player is different. I had this season a situation that was more difficult than Anthony - Mkhitaryan," Mourinho added.

"Mkhitaryan was completely open and understood the difference between me and other coaches he had.

"The difference between the demands of the Premier League and the Ukrainian league, or even Bundesliga: Complete different philosophy of play.

"And he worked a lot without playing, but he worked a lot to try to reach the level."

United, who are sixth in the league, 13 points behind leaders Chelsea after 18 games, host 15th-placed Middlesbrough on Saturday.

Defender Daley Blind has no doubt they are heading in the right direction after the Red Devils beat Sunderland 3-1 on Boxing Day to make it five victories in a row.

CONFIDENCE

He told MUTV: "In the end, it was a difficult game, we played very good and got the result. We didn't have a clean sheet, but it's a good result and I feel confident to move forward like this.

"We have a lot of confidence now and we're in good shape. We need to work hard and keep that feeling up and win games.

"Of course, we want to keep this run going and we'll work hard to do that."

Blind, brought into the side at the expense of Matteo Darmian, was an unlikely source for the opening goal, but he timed his run into the area perfectly to meet Zlatan Ibrahimovic's lay-off and find the far corner.

It was the fullback's first goal in 11 months and his first in the Premier League since September 2015. - WIRE SERVICES

eplManchester UnitedJose Mourinho