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Anthony Martial and Luke Shaw

Eyes left: Mourinho's revitalised duo

Jose Mourinho’s work with two key Manchester United players is reaping new and encouraging consistency down the team’s left flank, with Anthony Martial and Luke Shaw building a dynamic partnership.

Both men started the narrow 1-0 win over Young Boys on Tuesday and, though the duo were not at their fluent best, it was the eighth occasion in United’s last nine games when they have been together on the left from kick-off. Had it not been for Shaw’s suspension against Crystal Palace – following a fifth yellow card of the season in the Manchester derby – they could have been heading to Southampton this weekend with the prospect of a tenth consecutive pairing.
 
In contrast, the combination was deployed in just nine of the final 25 games in the Reds’ 2017/18 season, with the manager demanding increased ‘stability’ in Shaw’s performances and asking for
“more of the things I like”
from Martial.

All the Angles: Shaw's first United goalVideo

But Mourinho’s approach is now bearing fruit, with left-back Luke in the best form of his United career and attacker Anthony topping the team's goals chart with seven so far this season, including six in his last nine matches. Shaw, meanwhile, is behind only David De Gea and Paul Pogba in terms of appearances, which puts him just four short of his best tally for an entire campaign at the club (20 in 2014/15).
 
Pleasingly, the on-field relationship between the two is showing development, too. Martial’s dribbling ability and keenness to dart inwards onto his favoured right foot meshes well with Shaw’s speed and willingness to overlap on the outside.
With Pogba also fond of pulling over to the left – as he did for Marcus Rashford’s late winner against Bournemouth – there’s an increasing sense that Mourinho has found a potent formula. It’s one he will be keen to replicate on the right flank, where injuries to Antonio Valencia and Diogo Dalot – and the lack of a traditional right-sided winger – have led the manager to try several options.
 
But Mourinho is clearly pleased with his work on the opposite side. Recently, he told MUTV that he
“never gave up”
on Martial, explaining:
“I knew that for him to become a really top player, he needed to overcome some barriers that I put on the road for him. It is up to his talent, because he has phenomenal talent.
 
“It was just a question of him understanding what a top player is because there is a big difference between a top talent and a top player.

Matic: Martial can be one of the best article

Nemanja believes his in-form team-mate Anthony can become a Premier League great.

The Portuguese is not the only one who is pleased with Shaw and Martial, either. United’s no.23 won the fans’ vote to decide the first two Player of the Month awards of the current campaign, and Martial claimed October’s prize.

Another player whom Mourinho has recently commended and brought into the starting XI on a more regular basis, Victor Lindelof, has today won November’s award.

The opinions in this story do not necessarily reflect the views of Manchester United Football Club. Reading this in our app? If not, you might miss some exclusive features not found on ManUtd.com. Download the Official App here.

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