Brown backs Martinez to shine with time

Tuesday 09 August 2022 07:00

Manchester United legend Wes Brown was encouraged by Lisandro Martinez’s debut on Sunday and hopes the summer signing will help to shore up our defence this season.

The Argentina international joined from Ajax last month and made one pre-season appearance, before starting at Old Trafford in the Premier League opener against an energetic Brighton & Hove Albion side led by a rejuvenated Danny Welbeck. 

Appearing in such an occasion was always going to be a challenge with so few minutes under his belt as a Red, and Martinez must still adjust to the pace of English football, yet his performance at the Theatre of Dreams showed glimpses of why Erik ten Hag rates the centre-back so highly. 

Lisandro was intelligent with his movement, repeatedly open to receiving the ball and confident in possession. In fact, our new no.6 made more passes (80) than any other player on the pitch in M16. Yes, he could have conceded a penalty, and there was a yellow card, but give the guy a break. 

“He played well,” remarked United legend Brown in Monday’s episode of The Debate. “I was still looking at the size of him, but I like him. He's sharp, he's in your face, he's not scared of getting involved and he passed the ball out well. He took up some good positions and for his home Premier League debut, it was not a bad one for him personally, even if it was the team. 

“I think he is quick, he reads the game well and he doesn't look like he panics when people are running at him with the ball. He was good. I know we got beat, but personally he was good.”
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Martinez started the match alongside Harry Maguire at centre-back and with Raphael Varane on the bench, while Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof watched on from the Sir Bobby Charlton Stadium. The competition for places is fierce and Brown believes Ten Hag will be keen to cement a pairing. 

“I think it is going to take time, I think he is going to swap and change to see ultimately what is the best combination,” explains Wes. “It is not necessarily the names, you have got to look at who compensates with somebody else. Can you get to that Pallister and Bruce situation, Rio and Vida, Brown and O'Shea [laughs]! Can you get to that sort of standard? 

“Listen, that comes every 10 years or so. But, ultimately, he will want to see two players playing well together who can read each other's minds, knowing what the other person is going to do 80 per cent of the time. That is where you want to get to with your centre-backs.”
Fellow ex-Red Ben Thornley agrees with Brown and says the club captain is in pole position. “We want to get that [partnership] fairly quickly because it is the glue of the team really. 

“Wes is right, it will take a little bit of time, but hopefully it can move along quickly. I actually thought Harry Maguire was United's best player, I thought he was superb, so that would have helped Martinez as well. And Like Wes said, he is very, very comfortable on the ball.”
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The arrival of Martinez means we will see a left-and-right-footed partnership in defence and Ten Hag is confident that will improve our distribution this season. Brown agrees and states the mission now must be to record a run of clean sheets to build confidence.   

“It helps and Sir Alex did like that, even if it didn't happen a lot of the time. It just looks easier, naturally taking it out on your left foot. The thing with the defence is that we let in two goals. Can we stop this, can we stop letting goals in, can we get three games with clean sheets? 

“Confidence wise, that is one of the biggest things for me. Because you then go into games gearing each other up, telling everyone to do it again, to keep doing it. Even though we didn't play terribly in defence, we still let in two goals and we've got to stop that. It's a mentality thing. We've got try harder as a team because we let a lot of goals in last season.”