In the end, Manchester United bosses were left with little choice but to sack Jose Mourinho.
The Portuguese coach was axed in December 2018 after two-and-a-half years in the Old Trafford hot-seat.
United had just lost 3-1 to fierce rivals Liverpool, who were 19 points clear of the Red Devils in the table. But this was only part of the reason why Mourinho lost his job.
His relationship with certain players was, by all accounts, beyond repair.
Paul Pogba wanted to leave the club, while the likes of Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial and even Marcus Rashford were all reportedly considering their futures at Old Trafford towards the end of Mourinho’s tenure.
It’s no exaggeration to suggest that all of these players may have left Man Utd by now if Mourinho was still in charge of the Red Devils.
The decision to sack Mourinho and replace him with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer now looks an absolute masterstroke by Ed Woodward and co.
Credit where it’s due: they get that decision absolutely spot on.
To end any doubt that this is true, check out this brilliant video by @LzzDayan on Twitter titled ‘Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford – New beginning’.
Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford – New beginning 🌟 pic.twitter.com/KHYDovXwNq— 𝘿𝙎 ‘ (@LzzDayan) July 30, 2020
It begins with various incidents which remind us that Mourinho was openly critical of both forwards at various points.
There was one famous incident, several weeks before he was sacked, where Mourinho turned to the Old Trafford crowd and shook his head in disgust after Rashford spurned an early chance to score against Young Boys.
We also see a clip from Sky Sports’ ‘The Debate’ where host Kelly Cates asks the panel: “You would have heard the rumours that Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford are set to ask for a move away from Manchester United in order to get more game time going forward. Is that the right move for either of them?”
Ian Wright responds: “I think they should be thinking about that.”
We then see the moment where everything changes: Solskjaer’s arrival followed by Rashford and Martial bursting into life.
The two players have been fantastic for United this season and that’s largely due to their excellent relationship with the current boss, whose style of football suits everyone at the club far more than Mourinho’s did.
In 42 appearances this season, Rashford has scored 22 goals and provided 10 assists.
Martial’s stats are nearly identical. The Frenchman has also bagged 22 goals but provided one more assist than his teammate from 45 appearances.
For United fans, it must be scary to think how close the club came to losing their two in-form forwards, all because of Mourinho.
Don’t think I’ve ever acknowledged just how close we came to losing Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and possibly Marcus Rashford. Thank god we made it through Mourinho’s era somewhat stable.— ManUnitedMedia – Josh (@ManUnitedMedia) July 31, 2020
And Solskjaer deserves immense credit for helping both Rashford and Martial to flourish after such a difficult period in their respective careers.