Jose Mourinho believes he has a “new player” for the remainder of the season after Anthony Martial’s superb performance in Manchester United’s 2-0 win over Burnley on Sunday.
Martial was a surprise starter, with Marcus Rashford left on the bench despite his fine form of late, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic ruled out for the season – and possibly longer.
And the Frenchman scored a stunning opener at Turf Moor, starting and finishing a wonderful counter-attacking goal. It was his 25th as a United player, a milestone triggering an £8.5m payment to former club Monaco.
Prior to the game, Mourinho had publicly singled out the 21-year-old for criticism about his work-rate and application of the Portuguese’s methods, before saying he should learn from Rashford, who is two years his junior.
“He has to understand what we need from him but it's not just for us but it's also for him,” Mourinho said.
“If he wants to become a very special player - he can do that - then he has to go in a certain direction and today he showed this attitude and appetite. We are happy because we have a new player until the end of the season.”
United, who are now 23 games unbeaten in the Premier League, face Manchester City at the Etihad on Thursday night, with the added significance that Mourinho’s side will move into fourth at the expense of Pep Guardiola’s with a win.
However, Mourinho is also focused on reaching the Champions League by winning the Europa League, after being drawn against Celta Vigo in the semi-final.
“The gap is one point - but we are a bit in trouble as we have an eye on Celta Vigo too,” he added.
“This makes it more difficult for us as the Premier League fourth position is possible but it's not a trophy. In this club we want trophies - in the Europa League we have 25% chance of winning it and in the Premier League we have 0% chance of winning it. We're going to go for it.”