Anthony Martial’s relationship with Manchester United manager José Mourinho has soured dramatically, according to the Times on Friday.
The French international was omitted from the matchday squad for the second game running in Man United’s 2-1 EFL Cup semi-final defeat to Hull on Thursday night, and is reportedly extremely annoyed as to why this has been happening.
Specifically, he is perplexed as to why Mourinho has challenged him to improve his form when he scored in two of his last three starts, putting in a widely-praised performance against Middlesbrough in particular.
The former Monaco forward has been in and out of the starting eleven last season – despite arguably being the side’s best outfield player last year, his form has dipped dramatically and the manager has responded accordingly. Having started in the recent 1-1 draw against Liverpool, he was subsequently left out entirely of the next two 18-man squads.
Mourinho challenged Martial by publicly criticising his performances in public, arguing that it would “kill the other players” vying for that left wing spot, whom he listed as Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Juan Mata (with no mention of Ashley Young).
However, the challenge seems to have had negative effects, with the competition argument being another bone of contention with Martial due to the fact that the latter two are more widely used by Mourinho on the right flank.
The 21-year-old was linked with a loan move to Sevilla this month, and although Man United have dismissed the chances of the forward leaving in January, the player’s agent appeared to be far more open to his client leaving Old Trafford on a temporary basis.
That being said, the report does stress that Martial himself is happy living in Manchester and would rather this matter be resolved than looking to leave the club.
Mourinho has employed similar tactics with Luke Shaw this campaign. The left-back has not featured since November (and not in the league since October) in a season littered with form and injury problems, which the manager has fully acknowledged and discussed, and there have been conflicting reports in recent weeks as to whether the England international has a future at the club.