Martial must seize his chances

Forward Anthony Martial is under the cosh at Old Trafford, having struggled to impress Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho so far this season. The France international was left out of the Premier League match-day squad against Stoke City and has
Forward Anthony Martial is under the cosh at Old Trafford, having struggled to impress Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho so far this season. The France international was left out of the Premier League match-day squad against Stoke City and has been linked with a transfer away to Spanish Primera Liga side Sevilla.PHOTO: REUTERS

Mourinho questions his application but keeps mum about Wenger's FA charge

LONDON • Jose Mourinho has delivered another spiky appraisal of Anthony Martial's fortunes by claiming he cannot "kill" other members of his Manchester United squad by repeatedly giving the forward opportunities to impress.

The French striker, signed for £36 million (S$64 million) in 2015, has struggled to convince his manager since the start of the season.

Martial has made 13 Premier League appearances this campaign, four of them from the bench and has scored twice.

United recently sold Memphis Depay to French side Olympique Lyonnais and Mourinho said Martial, who has been linked with a move to Spanish Primera Liga side Sevilla, must make the most of his chances to nail down a first-team spot.

"I don't think he lost his focus. I just think he didn't catch with both hands a big opportunity he had," Mourinho added.

"When we spoke about Depay (leaving United) we spoke about it being the only position where we have an over-booking of players.

"We have still five players for this position. I cannot give one player chances to play and kill the others.

"We have (Marcus) Rashford, (Jesse) Lingard, (Juan) Mata, (Henrikh) Mkhitaryan and Martial, and I cannot give the same player chance after chance after chance and not consider the effort of the others."

United will host second-tier side Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup fourth round on Sunday, before playing their League Cup semi-finals opponent Hull City in the Premier League at Old Trafford.

Mourinho, meanwhile, refused to become embroiled in Arsene Wenger's possible ban from the Football Association (FA) for pushing fourth official Anthony Taylor.

Wenger did later apologise for his conduct, but Mourinho said: "I never pushed the referee so I don't have a comparison. So I have no idea."

The two managers have exchanged insults frequently down the years, and had a physical confrontation during a league match at Stamford Bridge in October 2014, when Wenger pushed Mourinho, then in charge at Chelsea.

Wenger said yesterday he would accept the misconduct charge for his behaviour during Arsenal's Premier League win over Burnley last Sunday.

He added: "I have little more to add. I am big enough to stand up for what I do.

"When I don't behave like I think I should behave, I am big enough to say I am not right.

"I'm a passionate guy and I believe that I am completely committed in my job and want to win the football games."

He also defended midfielder Granit Xhaka, who received his second red card of the season against Burnley and was investigated by police over an allegation he racially abused a member of staff at Heathrow Airport on Monday.

"He denies completely what happened at Heathrow," Wenger said.

"I've spoken to him about it and he completely denies it... I've never had a problem with him."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 27, 2017, with the headline 'Martial must seize his chances'. Print Edition | Subscribe