Erik Ten Hag Explains Why Lisandro Martinez Will Not Solve Manchester United’s Midfield Problem

Erik Ten Hag Explains Why Lisandro Martinez Will Not Solve Manchester United's Midfield Problem

This evening’s Europa League match against Real Betis will be Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag’s last chance to call on Casemiro until the middle of April..

The defensive midfielder, who joined United from Real Madrid last summer, was sent off in the first half of Sunday’s 0-0 draw with Southampton at Old Trafford. After being shown a yellow card by referee Anthony Taylor for his challenge on Carlos Alcaraz, the 31-year-old was then shown his second red card in just three Premier League appearances after a VAR intervention.

His latest dismissal means he will now serve a four-game domestic ban, beginning against Fulham in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Saturday..

Because domestic suspensions do not carry over into European competitions, the Brazilian will play in Seville this evening.

Casemiro, on the other hand, will have to tread carefully because he is only one booking away from a one-match Europa League ban. If he is cautioned this evening and United advances, he will miss the first leg of their quarter-final match on Thursday, April 13. He will next be available for a domestic match when they travel to Nottingham Forest on Saturday, April 15.

Whether or not he is booked this evening, United will be without the midfield enforcer for their next four domestic matches.

With Christian Eriksen and Donny van de Beek already out, the Reds are short on engine room personnel.

Two of Scott McTominay, Marcel Sabitzer, and Fred are expected to fill the two deeper midfield berths in the coming weeks, with McTominay being the most defensive-minded of the three. Ten Hag, on the other hand, turned to Sabitzer and Fred during Casemiro’s most recent suspension.

Despite taking seven points from a possible nine during that period, the Reds rode their luck in two games against Leeds United and a 3-0 win over Leicester City. Without Casemiro, they lacked control and bite and struggled to dictate games.

It was a similar story when he missed Arsenal’s 3-2 defeat in January after receiving his fifth booking of the season against Crystal Palace a few days earlier.

With that in mind, some United fans have urged Ten Hag to try something new and move Lisandro Martinez into midfield. Argentina international has previously played as a defensive midfielder, and his ability on the ball demonstrates that he is capable of filling the role.

Ten Hag, on the other hand, is unlikely to disturb Martinez’s center-back partnership with Raphael Varane. They have been at the heart of the Reds’ improvement this season, and their departure could jeopardize United’s defensive solidity.

In addition, Ten Hag, who worked with Martinez at Ajax, mentioned another reason why he may refuse to move Martinez into midfield. “Daley Blind does not have the running capacity to play in midfield,” he told ESPN in 2021. Martinez doesn’t either.”

As a result, even though Martinez left the door open to moving into midfield during his pre-match press conference in Spain on Wednesday evening, the case could be closed.

We have a lot of good midfielders, and as I’ve said in many interviews, I’ll play wherever the coach wants me to,” Martinez said. “I will be available at all times.”

Erik Ten Hag Explains Why Lisandro Martinez Will Not Solve Manchester United's Midfield Problem

Ten Hag has made no secret of his willingness to experiment and put players in unfamiliar positions this season.

Luke Shaw has played at center-back on a few occasions, Bruno Fernandes has played on both wings, and Eriksen has played as a striker since the season began, even if that experiment failed miserably.

Published on: March 16, 2023. at: 8:35 am

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