Erik ten Hag, manager of Manchester United, has stated that new addition Lisandro Martinez has done brilliantly at the defense. The data highlighting the Argentine center-strong back’s defensive productivity for the Red Devils was emphasized by the Dutch boss.
Ten Hag signed the 24-year-old defender despite the club’s terrible track record at the back. United had set a league record for goals conceded, and all fingers were directed at the traditional defensive lineup.
Ten Hag was in charge of providing the green light for the correct transfer, and the board was eager to back him up. Martinez’s name was towards the top of the manager’s wishlist, and he wanted to reunite with the former Ajax center-back.
He was eventually signed for €57.6 million and was promoted to the starting lineup. However, in the highly competitive Premier League, the Argentine’s height began to become a talking topic.
Speaking in an interview with Sky Sports after the game, Ten Hag was asked about the former Ajax center-back’s defensive shortcomings. The manager replied confidently:
“The data shows he is dominating the ground duels and also the aerial duels. I worked with him for a long time and I had that prejudice that you have, I had the same. But really quickly he turned it round because he was facing the biggest strikers in Holland and in Europe, in the Champions League. It was never a problem for him.”
The gaffer’s words do signify that he has faith in his center-back’s defensive abilities. Any player needs the belief of his manager and those words will give him some much-needed confidence.
Ten Hag decided to start Varane alongside Martinez against Liverpool and this move paid off well for the team. The players moved the ball quickly and they started dominating the opposition attackers.
At 5ft9in, commentators like Jamie Carragher predicted that the defender would struggle to manage the league’s brutality. Martinez’s flaws were highlighted in the first two league games, but the 24-year-old was named man-of-the-match against Liverpool.
The absence of Maguire brought a significant change as the players started to build up faster from the back and the full-backs effectively shielded the wingers. Given the performance against Liverpool, there are chances that the club has already found their perfect combination this season.
However, Varane has a horrible injury record, and the French defender must maintain his fitness in order to play every weekend. United is unlikely to continue with the same backline, and it will take time for the manager to find the ideal mix.
Nonetheless, Ten Hag will be pleased with Martinez’s bold performance against Liverpool and will seek to maximize his player’s potential.