Lisandro Martinez Earns His Nickname ‘The Butcher’

Lisandro Martinez

The most historic game in the Northwest of England was only a drop in the overflowing pool of troubles Erik ten Hag had been tasked with manoeuvring. Only a week ago, Manchester United suffered a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Brentford and since then, the topic of conversation surrounding the club has been primarily focused on the removal of the owners. But every cloud has a silver lining, and that silver lining was a man substituted at halftime in the previous game, Lisandro Martinez.

Lisandro Martinez Makes His Mark

Lisandro Martinez Setting the Tone

Within the first ten minutes Gary Neville, one of the co-commentators for the evening, remarked how United had got the “basics” right so far and that they did. Not just on the ball but off it – every tackle, header won, clearance and 50/50 was cheered by the Old Trafford faithful as if it were a goal.

The man who embodied getting the basics right was Martinez. From his first-time pass to Anthony Elanga to start the first goal, to his seal out of Fabio Carvalho late in the second half, he did not put a foot wrong all game.

Shades of Vidic

Heart, passion, and desire are terms that could be used to describe a number of Manchester United players against Liverpool, as every bit of good defensive play was rewarded with a high five or an aggressive pat on the head from Licha. Clearing the ball seven times, making three ball recoveries and one block it was clear to see Martinez was dying for the chance to prove to United fans he can live up to the nickname “Butcher”.

However, within the first few moments of the game, this was clear to see when an aggressive challenge through the back of Mohamed Salah was seconds later reconciled with an even more aggressive shoulder barge as the Argentinian returned to his position.

Whilst he does not possess the physical stature of Nemanja Vidic, Martinez is more like him than he is not. Aggression being the forefront of the comparison as a feeling that both players exude is that they would rather die on the pitch than leave with a loss.

After a horrible near-own goal from Martinez was turned away by David de Gea, he knelt head in arms for a moment, composed himself, and returned to defend the resulting corner. It is clear to see he sets a high standard for himself and that there is another way he can be seen alongside the Serbian great.

Still Aggressive at Five-Foot-Nine-Inches

Jamie Carragher was damning of Martinez after the Brentford game saying a five-foot-nine-inch centre-back cannot succeed in the Premier League. Whilst he backtracked on some of his comments, he still alluded to his height being an issue at some point in the season.

However, what Martinez lacks in height he makes up for in his aggression and ingenuity. For example, in the 41st minute as a Liverpool corner comes in that is not in his zone to win, he anticipates where the resulting header will end up and positions himself at the back post. Whilst no Liverpool player gets to the second ball he does end up blocking a miss-kick from Bruno Fernandes off the line and then clearing the ball in his next action.

These same measures were taken by him in the Brentford game but in that instance, the resulting second ball from the corner ended in a goal for Ben Mee. Nonetheless his ability to read danger and craft alternative ways to stop it is what made him phenomenal at Old Trafford. This anticipation of danger could also be noticed in his willingness to rush into midfield when United lost the ball and stop Liverpool high up in transition. All game, Martinez was immense and showcased why he can be a top centre-back for Manchester United.

Final Takeaway

On the Sky Sports post-match coverage, Ten Hag said that for United it was all about attitude and having a fighting spirit, and the spark that ignited that for them was Lisandro Martinez.

For the manager, the test now is getting this team fired up like that for every game this season and the key is players playing like leaders, which in this case was done by the Argentinian butcher and the United fanbase will not forget that performance anytime soon.