The pair endured a frosty relationship at Old Trafford with Mourinho’s patience snapping in September 2018 after Martial neglected his defensive duties.
“I want to play Martial, something that you [the media] are asking for a long, long, long time,” Mourinho said at the time. “I left Alexis out and I think Martial is not a player very, very focused on his defensive duties.
“I thought to play him as a second striker would be easier for him and at the same time I feel we need quality on ball in the building up from the back and Scott McTominay has that quality with the ball.”
Martial has recalled the difficulty he had responding to the public outing from his former boss, but insists he used it to fuel a response on the pitch.
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“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,” Martial told RMC.
“After that, you definitely want to prove him wrong. 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.”
Mourinho also experienced issues with Karim Benzema at Real Madrid and once claimed he only used the Frenchman because he has “nothing else”.
But Mourinho insists Martial was a different case altogether and that he truly wanted the United forward to fulfil his potential.
“With Karim, it was not a conflict, I just wanted to help the player – an incredibly talented player – change his mindset, help him reach his maximum,” said Mourinho. “To become a killer, a determined striker. I really enjoyed working with Karim.
“He [Martial] is a boy with a different personality. The thing I can say is that I hope he will reach a level commensurate with his real potential.”
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