Ten Haag: Why Martinez is my player of the month

Manchester United defenders Raphael Varane, Lisandro Martinez and Tyrell Malacia are all nominated for our Player-of-the-Month award in August, so who will get your vote?

Wes Brown gave his opinion during Monday’s episode of The Debate and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the tough-tackling former centre-back has been impressed by all three of the nominees.

But when pressed for a single name, the homegrown hero pointed to one of our new signings who has displayed a great deal of courage and personality throughout his first month as a Red.

“For me with Varane, I don’t expect anything less and that’s the honest truth,” began Brown. “He is so experienced with everything he has won. The way he is playing, he didn’t [need to] make a tackle against Southampton and that just shows [he is] a world-class defender.

“If Varane can stay fit, he will do that more consistently throughout the season. But, for me, the Player of the Month has got to be Martinez.

“He reminds me of a Carlos Tevez at the back – he just doesn’t give you any rest, he is always there.

“The striker gets the ball and he thinks he can have a nice day, but then boom, he’s having it [laughs]! Some fouls don’t matter either and I like it. He’s on you, he’ll give you [a challenge] and then run off. The striker is [left] wondering what it was for.


“He just gets on with it all day. He’s there for 90 minutes, always on his toes, and it’s up to you to do something about it. That’s why I say Martinez. To come back from those first two games when he got a lot of stick, it takes a lot of character.”

The United defence endured a challenging start to the season after those disappointing defeats to Brighton and Brentford. But Erik ten Hag has landed on a winning formula after starting Diogo Dalot, Varane, Martinez and Malacia in the morale-boosting wins over Liverpool and Southampton.

Brown believes the manager will stick with that quartet for this Thursday’s Premier League match against Leicester City at the King Power Stadium, where we can hopefully earn three more points.

“It has taken a while for the manager to really think about who his centre-backs and full-backs are going to be,” said Wes.

“But after the Liverpool game you could see he was always going to play the same four again because you need a little bit of structure. You can now see a stability in the defence.

“With Martinez coming in, in the first two games he got a lot of stick, but with the sort of player he is, he just gets on with it, he grits down and I like him.

He doesn’t give the strikers any room, he is always in your face, he doesn’t give you any room and strikers don’t like that. It takes their mind off the game.

If it’s a foul, he just gets on with it, shoves his arm up and carries on, there’s no moaning.

“You can see the confidence is coming back into the team. I always thought the Southampton game would be more difficult than Liverpool, so if we can keep on winning with performances like that – keeping clean sheets – then that is the basis of a team that is lifted.

“Erik has got his back four for the time being. He will change it at some point, but [I think] that is the four he will stick with for the moment.”

Brown has also been impressed by the early promise of Malacia, who grasped his opportunity against Liverpool with both hands and caught the eye once again at St Mary’s Stadium. The left-back position is seemingly now his to lose, as the young Dutchman will want to keep Luke Shaw out of the team.

“Attitude is a big thing,” said Wes on The Debate. “You can make mistakes all over the pitch, but it’s how you react.

What is your reaction time? Are you running back or sprinting back in the right positions? He [Malacia] seems to be doing that.

“At the moment with Martinez, it seems to be a nice combination on that left-hand side, a nice partnership, and he’ll know that Luke Shaw will want to play every week.

So he doesn’t want to have a bad game, he wants to show the manager that he is more than capable of playing in this league, [show] the grit that he has shown in the last games. He’ll want to play every single time now.”

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