The Frenchman admits he was out to prove the Portuguese head coach wrong after falling down the squad pecking order during his reign at the club
Anthony Martial has revealed his frustration over being publicly criticised for his performances by Jose Mourinho when he was in charge of Manchester United.
Mourinho was drafted in to succeed Louis van Gaal in the Old Trafford hot seat a little under four years ago, and he immediately set about stamping his own mark on the squad.
Martial enjoyed a prominent role under the Portuguese initially, but he gradually fell out of favour and finished the 2016-17 campaign with just 18 Premier League starts to his name.
Romelu Lukaku’s arrival in Manchester ensured Martial remained on the fringes of the action the following season, which saw the Red Devils finish runners up in the top flight behind Manchester City.
Mourinho was eventually sacked in December 2018, amid rumours of discord within the walls of the dressing room and an alarming drop in the team’s performance levels.
The 57-year-old tactician frequently singled out members of his United squad for criticism in interviews and press conferences, with Martial’s demeanour and perceived lack of effort often called into question.
The Frenchman recalls being motivated to prove Mourinho wrong, admitting he was angered by his manager’s comments in the media.
“It’s true that I’d have preferred it if he’d told me directly, there’s no need to say it in front of everybody. After that, you definitely want to prove him wrong,” Martial told RMC Sport.
“He didn’t start me during the first few games and each time I came on, I scored. In the end, he told me: ‘You see, now you understand what I wanted’.
“It can get to you. You just want to show him you deserve to be on the pitch.”
Martial managed to reclaim a regular spot in United’s line-up after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over, with the Norwegian placing his faith in the 24-year-old and Marcus Rashford after deciding to offload Romelu Lukau and Alexis Sanchez last summer.
Injuries disrupted Martial’s start to the new season, however, with Rashford having to shoulder the main goalscoring burden for United in his absence.
The roles have been reversed since the turn of the year but Martial has struggled to lead the line on his own with Rashford sidelined until April due to a stress fracture in his back.
Solskjaer decided to bring in Odion Ighalo on loan from Shanghai Shenhua in January in order to increase his attacking options, with a crucial clash against Chelsea up next on February 17.
The United boss has confirmed that Ighalo will be included in his squad to face the Blues, which could mean that Martial’s place in the starting XI comes under threat.