Erik ten Hag reviews Man Utd's win v West Ham
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Manchester United icon Rio Ferdinand has come to the defence of Lisandro Martinez after his ability was questioned by former Liverpool midfielder Graeme Souness. The Argentine centre-back has been described as too small to play in defence in the Premier League, but his performances under Erik ten Hag have been crucial to the Red Devils’ impressive form and Martinez has shown that he can compete in England.
After a disappointing opening two games to the season, Martinez built a partnership with Raphael Varane at the back before the Frenchman’s injury, and his ability to play on the ball has been important to how Ten Hag wants his side to play. Questions regarding his aerial ability have largely gone away, forcing many pundits to make a U-turn on their opinion of the defender.
Souness, however, was not one of those pundits, as he claimed that the Argentinian international will “get found out” in the Premier League. “I just feel when you are that size you will get caught,” Souness told talkSPORT on Monday.
“You will get pinned in the box. I don’t think he’s terribly quick, I don’t think he’s terribly good on the ball, but he makes other people play and has real aggression, which Argentinians tend to have.
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“We are talking about the Premier League. He will [get found out]. At 5’9 and he’s playing against guys who are 6’2 then he will get pinned occasionally. He will get out sprinted occasionally and he will get caught. That’s my take on it. I can’t tell you a centre-back in English football, in my time of the game, that has been successful being that size.”
Ferdinand disagreed with Souness’ comments on Martinez, and questioned whether the pundit had watched enough games of the United defender. “Come on Graeme, man. He’s not watched the game,” Ferdinand said on his Rio Ferdinand Presents FIVE YouTube channel. “I like Graeme and I saw him in Portugal recently, what a player by the way.
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“Forget all that. You’ve got to watch the games. He’s obviously not watching Martinez because if you speak to anybody who knows the game, even when he was Ajax, you ask about his attributes… he’s great with the ball, can pass, is tenacious, aggressive, can defend. To say he can’t pass… wow.”
Souness also described another United summer signing Casemiro as a “steady Eddie”, as Ferdinand claimed that the Scot questioned the two players performing at the highest level for United.
“Casemiro, since he’s come in the team, has arguably been the most important player in the team,” Ferdinand added. “The two players he’s picked out are probably the worst players he could have picked out right now.”
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