Anthony Martial’s career at Manchester United has been littered with huge highs followed by huge lows. After a great debut season under Louis van Gaal, it wasn’t until Ole Gunnar Solskaer became manager that Martial had another great season, with him scoring 23 and assisting 12 in 2019-20.
His worst form has come under Jose Mourinho and, in an interview with France Football, Martial has explained how losing his shirt number to Zlatan Ibrahimovic started off an unhappy period for the Frenchman under Mourinho.
It started with the story of the shirt number. During the holidays, he sent me a message asking me if I would change to No. 11, explaining that it was great because it was the number of the legend Ryan Giggs. I told him that I had the greatest respect for Giggs but that I would prefer to keep my No. 9. And when I go back to the club, I see my No. 11 shirt, the story didn’t go well.
He disrespected me, directly. He talked about me in the press, little phrases, a bit like he had done with Karim Benzema at Real Madrid. In the [2017-18] season, I was the team’s top scorer in the first half of the season, he brought in Alexis Sanchez then I didn’t play much. It was the World Cup season as well, and it cost me a lot at the end, especially as the French team won. I should have been there.
Following the highs of 2020, Martial’s form suffered again, and he claims this is because he was asked to play by Solskjaer when he was injured.
The last two seasons, I have regularly played injured. People don’t know that, I couldn’t accelerate during the four months following the COVID season. 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 criticised — the coach never bothered to tell the media. Obviously, I end up getting injured for 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.
Martial has made just one second half appearance so far this season, assisting Marcus Rashford’s winner against Liverpool, but has been injured for all the other games.
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