Erik ten Hag threw Lisandro Martinez straight in for a baptism of fire for Manchester United’s opening game of the season.
While the team was burned by Brighton, Martinez came out of the game unscathed, surviving what appeared to be a clear penalty giveaway after fouling Danny Welbeck inside the box.
Aside from this unfortunate moment, Martinez had a good game and was one of the very few reasons for Manchester United to be positive.
The Argentine partnered Harry Maguire in defense, with manager Erik ten Hag benching Raphael Varane while Victor Lindelof did not even make the bench.
Manchester United’s £46 million summer signing from Ajax completed 70 passes – more than any player on the pitch.
He also completed 93 percent of his passes, the highest percentage of any player at Old Trafford to play 45 minutes or more.
He had 99 touches in total, and played 7/9 accurate long balls, mixing up shorter passes with more ambitious plays upfield.
Defensively he never let up, making 15 recoveries, blocking two shots, two interceptions, and making two headed clearances.
He came close to scoring an equalizer in the second half when he got into a good position from a set piece, only for Lewis Dunk to block his shot. He probably should have scored.
This wasn’t a debut Martinez will remember fondly, and the hindsight of the poor result suggests it is arguable whether United should have thrown him straight in. But that’s no slight on his performance. FotMob rated Martinez as United’s best player with a 7.3 rating
There is reason to be very encouraged by Martinez’s debut, individually. His task will become a lot easier as he settles, and his prolific passing offers an indication of the style Erik ten Hag wants to implement – and will do successfully if he can get the midfield in front of Martinez right.