Football

Martial takes a dig at Mourinho’s style

French forward says it is easier to play for Solskjaer

Manchester United forward Anthony Martial seemed to take a dig at former manager Jose Mourinho, saying perhaps it's easier to play Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's brand of football.

Mourinho was sacked last December as poor results matched the dour displays by his side on the pitch.

But his replacement Solskjaer has overseen an upturn in both fortunes and entertainment value, with 10 wins and a draw in his 11 matches in charge.

Speaking ahead of the first leg of United's Champions League last-16 tie with Paris Saint-Germain at Old Trafford tomorrow morning (Singapore time), Martial said: "We have got a coach who has different intentions.

"Perhaps it is easier to play this style of football and not the style of football he (Mourinho) asked...

"He is asking me to attack more. That is my job after all - to make the difference, to be more decisive. Things are working out well for the other attackers."

Ahead of his side's clash with one of the perennial favourites for the Champions League crown in PSG, Solskjaer said United were capable of beating anyone.

He said: "I think the squad is very capable of winning against anyone and we go into games confident in our form.

"We just have to look at PSG and take the next challenge as it comes... We can improve and maybe surprise a few."

While PSG represent Solskjaer's biggest test of his interim tenure at Old Trafford, he could be set for many more such tough duels in Manchester.

The Sun yesterday reported that the United board have decided that he will be named as Jose Mourinho's permanent replacement, although they might not make it official until the end of the season.

Former United defender Gary Neville believes United should not rush any announcement until March, but warned that Solskjaer's impressive record makes not appointing him a "huge risk".

He said on Sky Sports: "I'm looking at it from an owner's point of view and thinking, if Manchester United continue in the vein they are towards the end of the season, playing the way they are, get into the top four... The risk of not giving Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the job is huge.

"If, next October, they've spent £30-£40 million (S$52.6m-S$70.2m) to get a manager... and they're in fifth, all hell will break loose."

Phil Jones made reference to United's struggles pre-Solskjaer ahead of the clash with PSG, admitting United were a "laughing stock" earlier this season.

He said: "It was tough for everyone involved, we might have been a bit of a laughing stock at the start of the season, but certainly not now.

"We've proven that in the last 10 or 12 games. Everyone's got to take us seriously now."

Former Liverpool midfielder Dietmar Hamann is certainly of the opinion United should be taken seriously, opining that they are contenders to win the Champions League.

He told the Racing Post website: "It looks absolutely wide open with no outstanding team.

"I could make a claim about probably nine or 10 clubs, and Manchester United now have to be included...

"United under Solskjaer go into the knockout phase buzzing, take on PSG at the perfect time with Neymar out, and they should fear no one."

It's not just the fear factor that has returned to Old Trafford, but the "hairdryer treatment" synonymous with legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson is apparently making a comeback as well.

Fullback Ashley Young told French newspaper L'Equipe: "I can tell you that we were treated recently to some hair-dryer treatments…

"When Ole Gunnar arrived, in a way, I almost felt like Sir Alex was back. ..

"He is obsessed with both victory and the fact that his players flourish on the pitch, like Sir Alex."

Football