Ten Hag praises 'happy' Rashford as Man Utd host Sociedad
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So far this season, one of the biggest talking points at Manchester United has been Lisandro Martinez. His height was cited as an issue by Jamie Carragher and other critics during the early stages of the season but he’s come good as Erik ten Hag has guided them to four Premier League wins. Paul Scholes and Carlos Tevez were shorter than the Argentine and won trophies – so it appears the Red Devils are hoping their newest recruits come good.
United spent a huge deal worth £57million on Martinez back in the summer, with Ten Hag wanting somebody to rival the likes of Harry Maguire, Raphael Varane and Victor Lindelof for a starting berth.
He went straight into the side for the 2-1 defeat to Brighton, with the centre-back enduring a difficult afternoon as a brace from Pascal Gross gave the visitors all three points.
Undeterred, Martinez was then named in the starting XI for their game with Brentford. He was arguably the world player on the field, along with Maguire and David De Gea, as he was then hooked at half time.
But rather than drop Maguire, who has previously been deemed as integral by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Ten Hag has decided to stick with his ‘warrior’ instead.
United have improved since their early crisis and the 24-year-old’s transformation has been remarkable.
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He was part of a back four that, for the most part, nullified Liverpool in a 2-1 win. Martinez targeted Mohamed Salah early on and, perhaps hearing the roar that followed, proceeded to grow in stature.
For the match with Southampton, he and Varane managed to help them to a maiden away win of the season – and first clean sheet along the way.
A second followed against Leicester, when Jamie Vardy was kept quiet. The Foxes have endured a nightmare start to the season, sitting bottom of the table, but it was encouraging nonetheless.
And Martinez was solid against Gabriel Jesus on Sunday, with United beating Arsenal 3-1 thanks to some help from VAR, Antony and Jadon Sancho.
It has been a turnaround but yet the critics remain, with the player’s height continuously called into question and scrutinised.
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But it makes no sense when players such as Tevez and Scholes, who are shorter, won trophies.
As a centre-back going up against a target man it’s a disadvantage. Yet players at other ends of the field encounter the same issues – and don’t have Martinez’s leap.
In midfield, Scholes went up against Patrick Vieira, Yaya Toure and many other tall players. He adapted, finding ways to ensure United won trophies galore under Sir Alex Ferguson.
And, as a striker, Tevez featured against rocks such as John Terry, Vincent Kompany (who would later become his team-mate) and many others.
He was better at Manchester City, but still played a key role as United won the Champions League trophy and two Premier League titles in 2008 and 2009.
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Martinez’s turnaround means he’s starting to show encouraging signs that he can, at least, be a hero for this United team.
And with Real Sociedad in the Europa League next up on Thursday, it’ll be interesting to see whether he’s deployed from the start once again.
United go into that fixture hoping to carry on their recent resurgence as they look for a first trophy since 2017, when Jose Mourinho won the same competition.
They also reached the final in 2021, only to lose to Villarreal on penalties.
So Ten Hag may decide to stay strong for the fixture as a result.
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Regarding Martinez, Jaap Stam has hailed the United star and his partnership with Varane.
“Him and Varane have been doing well,” he said. “After the Brentford game, they’ve been playing together and there’s a connection between the two, they feel what the other one is doing.
“So automatically, things are now a lot simpler than how it was before.
“I know Martinez from over in Holland, of course the first starts he made and I know his mentality in what he’s trying to do.”
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