Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has downplayed his heated exchange with Anthony Martial during their 1-0 loss to Newcastle, insisting it was about motivating the team, not singling out the struggling striker.
"It's not about Antony Martial," Ten Hag told reporters after the match. "It's about the team. I tried to energise the team, to get a reaction from the team."
The Dutchman's passionate outburst on the touchline, which saw him screaming at Martial and the Frenchman responding in kind, had raised eyebrows and fueled speculation of a deeper rift. However, Ten Hag brushed it off as a normal part of his coaching style, especially during challenging moments.
"In this moment, we had a tough period," he explained. "When you are coaching you are a little bit more aggressive and that is normal."
Martial, along with the majority of his teammates, had an underwhelming performance at St. James' Park. He was eventually replaced by Rasmus Hojlund after just 61 minutes, adding to the intrigue surrounding the incident.
While the exchange undoubtedly highlighted Martial's ongoing struggles and his place in Ten Hag's plans, the manager's focus on team motivation suggests it might not be a personal vendetta. Only time will tell if this fiery exchange proves to be a turning point for Martial or simply another chapter in his inconsistent United career.