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Anthony Martial calls out Mourinho and Solskjaer in interview on Man Utd career

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Anthony Martial’s Manchester United career has been a rollercoaster of emotions. Overall, you’ve got…

anthony martial calls out mourinho and solskjaer in interview on man utd career
anthony martial calls out mourinho and solskjaer in interview on man utd career
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Anthony Martial’s Manchester United career has been a rollercoaster of emotions.

Overall, you’ve got to say that the last seven years have been incredibly disappointing with Martial never truly evolving into the world-beating forward that he was once tipped to be.

However, that’s not to say that there haven’t been amazing moments along the way with the Frenchman’s 2015/16 and 2019/20 seasons in the famous red jersey proving particularly fruitful.

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Martial’s Man Utd career

Martial broke onto the scene at the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ as their top goalscorer in all competitions under Louis van Gaal, plundering 17 goals despite having barely turned 20 years old.

And it really looked as though Martial had finally found his home in the number nine position during Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first full season when he scored a career-high 23 goals.

But a tough second year leading the line eventually led to a chain of events where Edinson Cavani and Cristiano Ronaldo came through the door and Martial was duly loaned out to Sevilla.

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The former AS Monaco starlet did manage to bounce back with an impressive pre-season under Erik ten Hag, but recent injury problems have once again slammed the brakes on his tumultuous career at Old Trafford.

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Martial gives wide-ranging interview

So, how we can possibly explain and unpack what undoubtedly makes for a hectic seven years of peaks and troughs followed by more peaks and troughs…?

Well, the man himself looks to have answered many of the questions on United fans’ lips as part of a wide-ranging interview with France Football that started doing the rounds this weekend.

In quotes corroborated by the Metro, Sports Illustrated, The Sun, Manchester Evening News and Goal France, Martial commented on everything from his struggles under Jose Mourinho to playing while injured under Solskjaer, underlining just how tough his time at United has been over the years.

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Man Utd's Martial clapping.
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – AUGUST 22: Anthony Martial of Manchester United in action during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford on August 22, 2022 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

It’s hard not to read Martial speaking about feeling as though he was betrayed and not feel sad for him over what has undoubtedly been a tough few years in his professional life…

Troubles under Mourinho

“It started with the story of the shirt number. During the holidays, he [Mourinho] sent me a message to ask if I want to change to the No.11, explaining to me that it is great because it was worn by Ryan Giggs, a club legend.

“I tell him that I have the greatest respect for Giggs but I prefer to keep the No.9. When I returned to the club, I see my name with the No.11, the story did not end well. He [Mourinho] lacked direct respect for me.

“He talked about me in the press, little phrases, a bit like he had done with Karim Benzema at Real Madrid. He likes these little games, but he also knows who he is doing it with.

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“He knows that I am then 20 years old, that if I say something, it is I who will pass for the young person who lacks respect.

“So I said nothing, it was useless. The following season, I was the best in the team in the first part of the season, he brought in Alexis Sanchez and there I hardly played anymore.

“It’s the season of the World Cup and it cost me dearly, especially since the France team won [the tournament]. I should have been there.”

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Martial and Mourinho at Man Utd.
Soccer Football – Premier League – Manchester United vs Chelsea – Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain – February 25, 2018 Manchester United’s Anthony Martial walks past manager Jose Mourinho as he is substituted Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or “live” services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

Playing while injured under Solskjaer

“I regularly played injured. People don’t know it, I couldn’t accelerate during the four months following the Covid season. The coach tells me he needs me, so I play.

“But, given my game, if I can’t accelerate, it becomes very complicated all the same. And I got set on fire [criticised by fans]… the coach never bothered to tell the media.

“Obviously, I ended up getting injured for good and when I came back, finished, I didn’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 the scenes you are dismissed. For me, it’s almost treachery. That’s all I hate. I can be blamed, but not for being fake.”

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Solskjaer comforts Martial.
Soccer Football – Europa League – Group L – Partizan Belgrade v Manchester United – Partizan Stadium, Belgrade, Serbia – October 24, 2019 Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer celebrates with Anthony Martial after the match REUTERS/Marko Djurica

Happier days under Van Gaal

“I had a great relationship with Louis van Gaal the first season. I love to learn and when a gentleman like him takes the time to make me watch videos of my matches in his office to explain things to me, that’s the best.

“Once I had scored twice and he made watch the video to set me on fire. I told him that I scored twice, so what’s the problem? He wanted to talk to me about running angles and movement zones. I told him that I understood and that he liked my whole character.”

Martial and Van Gaal shake hands.
Football Soccer – Manchester United v Stoke City – Barclays Premier League – Old Trafford – 2/2/16 Manchester United’s Anthony Martial shakes hands with manager Louis van Gaal as he is substituted Reuters / Phil Noble Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or “live” services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

A fresh context to Martial at Man Utd

It’s at times like these that it’s so important to remember that footballers are human beings.

As much as it would be ideal for everyone at United that Martial was channeling his 2015/16 and 2019/20 form every single season, life simply doesn’t work like that in pretty much every job.

Whether it was transfers, injuries or managerial problems, Martial has had to navigate so many changes and challenges at United that it’s no wonder his form hasn’t always been world-beating.

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Does that mean he’s completely immune to criticism and hasn’t put a foot wrong at any point? Of course not, but as fans and journalists, we’ve always got to try and frame a player’s struggles within its context.

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And we can only hope that Martial uses what must have been a cathartic interview as fuel to show exactly the type of impressive form he delivered in pre-season across 2022/23 proper.

If he can do exactly that, then Premier League defences ought to beware.

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