Erik ten Hag has seemingly put an end to any doubts over Anthony Martial’s future at Manchester United by backing the striker to become ‘even better’ if he can stay focused and motivated.
Signed from Monaco in 2015, the 26-year-old had wandered off to Old Trafford of late and joined Sevilla on loan for the second half of last season.
Martial’s displeasure has been laid bare by caretaker boss Ralf Rangnick, but permanent successor Ten Hag appears keen to give the France international another shot at United.
The striker scored in Tuesday’s 4-0 win over Liverpool in Thailand and netted again as the Red Devils came from behind to beat Melbourne Victory 4-1 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
“I’m sure he can come back even better,” said Ten Hag after United’s first of three games in Australia.
“I think when he has the right focus and the right motivation and works hard, he will have production because he is a good player.
“I say when he has the right focus and every day delivers his maximum, he will have production and that’s up to him.”
Ten Hag was delighted to see United’s hard work on the training ground in action on Friday, when Marcus Rashford and Edmond Lupancu’s own goal wrapped up the comeback victory.
A deflected shot from Scott McTominay and Martial’s goal turned the game upside down just before the break after the Red Devils fell behind in the fifth minute on a Chris Ikonomidis strike.
The finish was as good as United’s defense was poor, but Ten Hag refused to pick anyone to criticize.
“I don’t want to talk about the individual because I think it was from the start at the top of the pitch,” said the Dutchman.
“Bad choices and then it ends like a card game. It’s not an individual, it’s rather the team that made mistakes.
“Second game, totally different approach to the opponent.
“They are very remote, very compact, we had to create on our own and on the left side it was not so easy.
“On the right side I was quite happy and we created a lot on the right side, four or five very good chances, we turned the game around, that was the very good thing, we don’t go down, we react and we face the reverse.
“Of course (Jadon Sancho played well) but I think the whole right side played very well because there is a good connection between Jadon Sancho and Diogo Dalot and Bruno (Fernandes), Martial and also McTominay.
David De Gea and Rapahel Varane were conspicuously absent from the Melbourne matchday squad, but Ten Hag said the issues keeping them out were not serious.
“You saw against Liverpool (De Gea) fell but he is already training,” he said. “He’s back on the training ground, no big worries.
“Raphael Varane is also training but something small and I’m waiting for him back on the training ground.”