Jose Mourinho called on Anthony Martial to step up and shine on a consistent basis after his moment of brilliance in Manchester United’s friendly win against Real Madrid.
Having seamlessly slotted into life at Old Trafford after joining from Monaco, the 21-year-old struggled to scale such heights in his second campaign at the club.
Mourinho has not been shy at expressing his frustration and there has been talk this summer of a potential exit for Martial, with United looking at Inter Milan winger Ivan Perisic.
That deal is proving hard to get over the line but in the 21-year-old they have a fine player on the left flank – one capable of magic.
Martial thrilled the Levi’s Stadium crowd on Sunday by showing mesmerising close control and skill, before playing over for Jesse Lingard to open the scoring against Real Madrid.
Put to Mourinho that the assist underlines what a useful asset the France international can be, the United boss said: “Exactly, but obviously we want more consistency in his talent.
“I think today was positive for him, that’s why I left him for 90 minutes on the pitch.
“He was enjoying (himself), he was trying things and it’s important in these friendly matches to try things, which he did.
“I think was good for Anthony, for his confidence.”
Mourinho left Martial out of the squad on occasions last season, never mind the starting line-up, and publicly called into question aspects of his mentality.
“He is a young player,” the United boss said in Santa Clara.
“There’s still time to learn, still time to improve, still time to develop and it’s also his personality. I can say that he is training better than before, he’s working harder than before.
“It’s a question to bring his talent more in a consistent way.”
Martial’s exquisite close control and pass for Lingard opened the scoring in California, where new boy Victor Lindelof clumsily gave away a penalty slammed home by Casemiro.
The International Champions Cup tie finished 1-1 after 90 minutes, with United triumphing 2-1 in a hilariously low-quality penalty shootout.
Martial ballooned over and Lindelof fired straight at the goalkeeper, while Scott McTominay was also denied – the player that came on minutes into the second half for Ander Herrera.
The influential Spanish midfielder was hurt in a challenge that Mourinho hopes is not too severe.
“It is at least very painful because for Ander to come out it has to be very painful,” he said.
“I want to wait and see what it is, but I also say to the players, ‘No risk in friendly matches – if you feel something, if you feel that something is coming, sometimes a little muscular injury, get out’.
“The result is not important, but he was very painful, it was in front of the bench.
“I think it was a bad contact. Maybe ribs, I don’t know. Maybe muscle, I don’t know.”
It was a peculiar afternoon that started with Ronald McDonald leading the sides out – brouhaha that is a far cry from what will welcome the teams when they meet in the UEFA Super Cup in a few weeks.
Asked if he had seen some things that can benefit his side in Macedonia, Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane said: “Yes, but obviously the important thing is to work right now and begin getting ready for that match.
“We’re looking to obviously start playing, compete and prepare for that game on the eighth.
“Overall, it’s our first game but what we’re focusing on is being ready to arrive at the game on eighth in Europe in the best form possible.”