‘Happiness’ is key to Anthony Martial’s United form

‘I see a great improvement in the person, in the mood, in the face, in the body language’

 Anthony Martial of Manchester United celebrates scoring against Burton Albion at Old Trafford. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Anthony Martial of Manchester United celebrates scoring against Burton Albion at Old Trafford. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

 

Jose Mourinho believes Anthony Martial’s impressive start to the season is because the Manchester United forward is far happier than he was last year.

The 21-year-old has scored four times in seven appearances this term, half of his overall total of eight in 2016-17. Martial has managed the tally despite starting only three times.

“I see a great improvement in the person, in the mood, in the face, in the body language - if you want just a word, in the happiness,” Mourinho said of the Frenchman’s return to form.

“(Martial) is a happy guy, he’s working extremely well. He starts matches, he tries to do well. (If) he goes from the bench, even it is for 10 minutes like in the last (league) match at home, he tries to enjoy and to give something in these extra minutes. I am very pleased with his attitude overall and then it’s easier to play well.”

Earlier this week, anti-discrimination organisation Kick It Out wrote to Manchester United, urging them to stop supporters singing a chant that makes reference to the size of Romelu Lukaku’s penis, on the basis that it reinforces racist stereotypes. Lukaku has subsequently asked fans to “move on” from the chant, via the club’s official Twitter account.

Mourinho sidestepped the issue at his pre-match press conference, preferring to focus on Saturday’s visit to Southampton.

“Don’t ask me these questions. I want the fans to support the football and to support the players. That’s what I want,” the Manchester United manager said.

United travel to St. Mary’s for their sixth league match of the season - and first to kick off at 3pm on Saturday. Mauricio Pellegrino’s side are in ninth position with eight points, five behind Mourinho’s team who are joint-top of the table with neighbours Manchester City.

Mourinho was full of praise for the south coast side, who were defeated in February’s EFL Cup final to earn Mourinho’s first major trophy as Manchester United manager.

“Southampton is the kind of club that are very stable in the way they play and in the way they see football, the qualities of their players. Honestly, I think it’s a very good club to be manager of. And I see the match tomorrow as a very difficult match.”

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