Anthony Martial feels he has improved tactically and defensively during a prolonged run in the Manchester United team that has helped win over Jose Mourinho.
Few foresaw the 22-year-old having an Old Trafford future under the Portuguese just a matter of months ago, never mind becoming one of the first names on the team sheet.
Martial’s unhappiness was clear and Press Association Sport understands Mourinho was willing to sell the forward in the summer – a time when the manager fined him for the way he left their American pre-season tour for the birth of his second child.
But the France international has kicked on remarkably, winning United’s Player of the Month for October, and on Tuesday made his ninth straight start in all competitions as Young Boys were edged out 1-0 in the Champions League.
“The key to it is playing games,” Martial said of his upturn in fortunes.
“For me, when you play in a game, that’s when you get back your enjoyment and you start to pick up your form once again.
“If you don’t feature regularly and you only take part in training sessions, you might still be in decent form, but it’s not the same as when you are playing in matches.
“So, yeah, I hope that I can continue to put together a good run of games and perform well in them.”
Martial has impressed Mourinho to such an extent that the manager expressed his hope that the rejuvenated forward would sign a new deal at Old Trafford, with his current deal set to expire in 2020 once United trigger the one-year extension clause.
The Portuguese said earlier this month that he is “now much closer to being a top player”, with the Frenchman pinpointing his improvements off the ball as key to that.
“I think that (my improvement) is more on a tactical level. I try and take up good positions, so I can best help out my team,” Martial told United Review.
“I have been trying to work harder defensively too and to really try and help out the side when we aren’t in possession of the ball.
“We work a lot on tactics and I try and do my best. I listen carefully to the advice of all the coaching staff we have here and I find that this helps me a lot.”