When Anthony Martial first arrived at Manchester United, on summer transfer window deadline day 2015, he was largely unknown, but had drawn Theirry Henry comparisons. The Monaco man was, according to then manager Louis van Gaal, really acquired for the benefit of the supposed next manager, Ryan Giggs.
As it turned out, Giggs never got the next United gaffer gig (sorry, couldn’t pass it up) and Martial never came remotely close to producing on a level on par with Henry. But Giggs has come up again in conversation with Martial, who hit out at two of his former managers at United- Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Anthony Martial having issues with Mourinho is not surprising, as it was very evident all along that the two just could not co-exist well. With the exception of Paul Pogba, Mourinho had more issues with Martial than anyone else. Now the Frenchman forward is telling his side of the story, claiming that The Special One benched him and cost him a World Cup winner’s medal with France.
“It started with the story of the shirt number,” Anthony Martial is quoted by France Football, who cited a RMC Sport interview.
“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 and 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.”
Sanchez was without a doubt one of the worst busts in United history, so you can’t blame Martial for being miffed and letting loose. Anthony Martial, currently out with an Achilles injury, had a great preseason after returning from a loan stint at Sevilla. His time at United has been a roller coaster to say the least. Martial saw an initial resurgence in form under Solskjaer, but it didn’t last.
Martial claims that was because the Norwegian forced him to play through a lot of pain, but didn’t disclose the player’s injured status to the public.
“The last two seasons, I have regularly played injured,” Martial said about his time under Solskjaer.
“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.”
There are two sides to every story, well, some say three sides: one side, the opposing side and then the actual truth. Kudos to Anthony Martial for articulating his perceived truth, which we had not heard before.
Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Bank (TheSportsBank.Net) and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”
He has regularly appeared in WGN, Sports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune, and he co-hosts the After Extra Time podcast, part of Edge of the Crowd Network. Follow him and the website on Twitter and Instagram.
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