Manchester United striker Anthony Martial has revealed how he felt “disrespected” by Jose Mourinho and upset with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer during their reigns at Old Trafford.
After an impressive debut season at United under Louis van Gaal, Martial struggled in the following years under Mourinho and Solskajer. The French striker hit 18 goals and 11 assists in his first season and Van Gaal believed the 26-year-old was full of promise.
United paid £36m to Monaco for Martial, who was a virtual unknown in 2015. Van Gaal in fact claimed: “I have bought him for the next manager of Manchester United.”
That became Mourinho in May 2016, but the pair’s relationship was fractured to say the least. Martial was unable to develop under Mourinho and he was often criticised publicly by the Portuguese coach.
In 2018 Martial was accused of lacking ‘maturity’ and Mourinho named him among the players he felt were like “spoilt kids”.
Now Martial, who has scored once in one appearance this season, has had his say on Mourinho. And he says the former Chelsea boss forced him to change shirt number when Zlatan Ibrahimovic arrived in 2016.
The former France international wore the No 9 during his maiden year in England, but that was given to Zlatan under the watch of Mourinho.
‘The story did not start well’
“It started with the story of the number,” he told France Football, via the Express.
“During the holidays, he sends me a message to ask me if I want to take 11, explaining to me that it’s great, because it’s legend Ryan Giggs.
“I tell him that I have the greatest respect for Giggs, but that I prefer to keep my number nine.
“When I return to the club, I see my jersey with the number 11. The story did not start well. He disrespected me, straight up.”
Martial also referenced Mourinho’s mind games.
“He [Mourinho] was talking about me in the press,” he said. “He likes these games, but he also knows who he is doing it with.
“And he knows that I am 20 years old then and that if I say something, it is I who will pass for the young person who lacks respect.
“The second season [2017/18], I was the team’s top scorer in the first part of the season, he [Mourinho] brought in Alexis Sanchez and I hardly played any more.
“Mondial, it costs me dearly. I should have been there…”
Solskjaer never told the media, says Martial
Solskjaer has also come in for criticism from Martial, with the Massy-born forward accusing the Norwegian of forcing him to play whilst injured.
“The last two seasons, I have regularly played injured,” said Martial.
“People don’t know that, I couldn’t accelerate during the four months following the Covid season. Coach Solskjaer tells me that he needs me, so I play.
“Given my game, if I can’t accelerate, it becomes very complicated. And I get set on fire… The coach never bothered to tell the media.
“Obviously, I end up getting injured to good and when I come back, finished, I don’t play anymore.
“I took it very badly. I had a feeling of injustice.
“You are asked to sacrifice yourself for the team and behind you are dismissed. For me, it’s almost treachery, that’s all I hate. I can be blamed, but not for being fake.”