In an interview, Anthony Martial sharply criticized ex-coach Jose Mourinho and his treatment of him at Manchester United. Among other things, he said that the Portuguese cost him his participation in the 2018 World Cup.
“It all started with that shirt number thing,” Martial said France Football. Mourinho called him in the summer of 2016 and asked him if he wouldn’t rather have the number 11 instead of his number 9.
“He told me how great that shirt number was, it was Ryan Giggs shirt number after all, but I told him that despite my great respect for Ryan, I preferred to keep the 9,” continued Martial. When he came back from vacation, there was still a jersey with the number 11 hanging for him in the dressing room because Zlatan Ibrahimovic got his number.
Afterwards, Mourinho repeatedly “disrespected him very directly” and did what he had already done with Karim Benzema at Real Madrid. In the second season, 2017/18, Martial said he was in good form: “I was the team’s top scorer, then he bought Alexis Sanchez and I played very little,” he explained.
This then had a negative impact on his World Cup chances with the French national team: “It cost me a lot in the end, considering what France did at the World Cup. I should have been there.”
Martial’s ordeal at Manchester United continues
Even after Mourinho’s departure from Manchester United, things didn’t necessarily go better for Martial. After a strong 2019/20 season with 17 Premier League goals, his performance continued to decline – and with it his playing time. That’s one of the reasons why the now 26-year-old was loaned to Seville for the second half of the 21/22 season. The loan deal turned into a disaster: Martial scored just one goal in twelve competitive games and returned to United.
He currently has chances of a restart there under coach Erik ten Hag, but he has missed five of the previous six Premier League games due to thigh and Achilles tendon injuries.