Jose Mourinho urges Anthony Martial to listen to him over his agent
MANCHESTER -- Jose Mourinho urged Anthony Martial to listen to him and not the player's agent after the Frenchman played a key role in helping Manchester United fight back against Middlesbrough on Saturday.
Martial's future at the club has been in the spotlight, due to a recent lack of regular starts, but the forward played 90 minutes against Middlesbrough -- and scored the equaliser as United turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 win, with two goals in the last five minutes.
Speaking in his postmatch news conference, Mourinho said: "He played, he created, he scored, he fought. I think he was very positive. I know he's a top talent.
"Anthony has to listen to me, and not listen to his agent. He has to listen to me in training every day and listen to the feedback I give to try to improve players.
"With [Henrikh] Mkhitrayan, almost every day, his agent called me and said, 'Mkhitaryan with you will become a better player, keep going.'
"With Martial, I every day I read in the newspaper, 'Martial goes to Sevilla, Martial goes on loan, Martial is not happy.' Martial has to listen to me."
Before Martial's leveller, it had been a frustrating afternoon for Mourinho's men at Old Trafford - - particularly when Zlatan Ibrahimovic had a goal controversially disallowed for a high foot.
Once Martial scored, the crowd were enlivened and, a minute later, Paul Pogba headed in the winning goal to make the noisy Stretford End delirious.
Mourinho said: "In the last 20 minutes, we played with 70,000 fans or however many were there. It was too much for a very good team, a very well-organised team. It was phenomenal."
Had Ibrahimovic scored he would have finished 2016 level with Lionel Messi with 51 goals for club and country, and his United manager said it was a shame that the Swede fell short.
"It's hard because obviously we respect the referees and we know that they want to do well and Lee [Mason] will be very disappointed for sure because now he knows. But, for us, it's very disappointing," Mourinho said.
"We scored a beautiful goal that would have made it 1-0 at half-time, and Zlatan would be with Messi as the top scorers of 2016 in European football [in the top five leagues]. It stopped him finishing level with Messi so it's quite frustrating."
Mourinho gave a sympathetic hug to Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka after the fightback, having employed the Spaniard as his assistant at Real Madrid. Before the game, the pair had walked out of the tunnel together, smiling.
"I feel for my brother but not just him. I feel for the players," Mourinho said. "But the reality is that my players deserve this amazing comeback.
"In the first half, I know it was 0-0 but we hit the post, we were dominant. We stopped the opposition from playing.
"In the second half, we went behind and we were dominant, we were not afraid. We played very positive football."
The comeback came on the day of former manager Sir Alex Ferguson's 75th birthday and Mourinho said: "I wished him happy birthday before the match. The performance is a great tribute. I think the fans are loving the way the team plays. They love the players' attitude."
Arindam is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @ARejSport.