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Jose Mourinho owes Anthony Martial central role run

Anthony Martial’s resurgence at Manchester United has come at the perfect time for Jose Mourinho – perhaps even saving the Portuguese’s job in the Old Trafford dugout.

Martial cut a frustrated figure in his first two seasons under Mourinho after displaying huge promise in his debut campaign under the management of Louis van Gaal. Reports suggested that the 22-year-old wanted to leave the club during the summer, although a transfer away never came to fruition.

The Frenchman started the campaign on the periphery of the side, struggling to make an impact. His fortunes changed when Mourinho opted to replace another player failing to fire – Marcus Rashford – for United’s clash against Newcastle United on home soil.

Early goals from Kenedy and Yoshinori Muto put the Magpies into a 2-0 lead, leaving Mourinho on the brink. The Red Devils could not afford to drop further points off the top four of the Premier League. Juan Mata started the comeback with a delightful free-kick, but there was still work to be done to rescue the game.

Martial picked his moment to shine by weaving through the Newcastle defence before planting a strike past Martin Dubravka to notch the equaliser. Alexis Sanchez headed home a winner in stoppage time to snatch the three points in a result that the club may look back at the end of the campaign with huge significance.

The 22-year-old produced an excellent performance on the road against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, almost winning the match single-handed for the Red Devils. Only Ross Barkley’s late equaliser denied United the three points. However, Martial’s goal has proved crucial in tight wins over Everton and Bournemouth, with the Frenchman taking his tally to six strikes on the term.

United have reeled off a four-match unbeaten run to propel themselves back into the race for the top four, currently being backed at 5/2 in the Premier League betting odds to secure a Champions League place for next season, although there is still plenty of work ahead of Mourinho and his team.

Martial has proven that the Portuguese should have put more faith in his ability sooner through the middle of the team. Romelu Lukaku has not been firing on all cylinders, while Sanchez and Rashford have not been prolific in front of goal.

The 22-year-old has displayed the all-round game needed to succeed in the Premier League. His pace alone terrifies defenders as seen against Newcastle and Chelsea. The Frenchman also has precise clinical edge in the final third to find the back of the net, scoring curling strikes as well as predatory efforts like his goal against Bournemouth.

Mourinho owes it to Martial to persist with him for a lengthy run of games through the middle of the line due to the quality of his performances. Should the forward continue to operate at a high level then it could be the difference between reaching the top four or not. Without the Frenchman, United and Mourinho were heading down a very dark path that could have set the club back a long way.

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