Jamie Carragher has finally amitted that he wrote off Lisandro Martinez too fast, with the Manchester United star proving him wrong despite his stature.
The 5ft 9in Argentine was criticized by Carragher at the start of the campaign after United’s 4-0 defeat away to Brentford, claiming the defender ‘already looked wrong’ and that his lack of height would be a ‘problem’.
But Martinez is now a fans’ favourite at Old Trafford after a number of excellent performances, while his small stature has not stopped him from winning 27 aerial duels – the second most in the United team behind Casemiro.
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Carragher has now conceded that he judged Martinez too hastily and has become a big fan of the 25-year-old as the season has gone on.
Asked on The Overlap if he would now change his position on Martinez, Carragher said: ‘I think he’s been brilliant. To be that small and play centre-back, you obviously have to be a special player, a good player.
‘Now, I didn’t think someone of that size could cope in the Premier League. But he has coped, and he’s been brilliant.
‘He’s been a big part of Manchester United’s spirit. There was a game I saw a few weeks ago and he was actually a sub, and someone scored a late goal, and he was right involved in the celebrations.
‘Obviously you see him at the World Cup with Argentina, we saw him have that fight – with him and Casemiro coming in, they feel more powerful and strong.
‘But I didn’t think a centre-back of that size would be able to cope. But, listen, he can still get exposed in the air, that has to happen at some stage
‘But every player has got weaknesses; the best players hide them or make sure they don’t get exposed. And I think he’s a really good player and he’s surprised me the way he’s coped. Or, basically, how teams can’t get at him.’
Pressed more by Gary Neville on whether that meant a U-turn, Carragher added: ‘I’ve got no problem [backtracking]. I can admit when I’m wrong!’
Carragher also praised Erik ten Hag’s impact at the club, adding: ‘It does feel different at Manchester United. I always felt there was some negativity around the other managers.
‘With Jose Mourinho there were problems between him and the board. Louis van Gaal, the fans weren’t happy with the football. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, no one ever felt he was going to be a manager that could win United the league title. He didn’t have that pedigree as a manager.
‘Ten Hag knows what he’s doing and there’s a spirit at United that we haven’t seen for five or six years. The connection between the fans and the club is coming back. There’s a spirit there, when they score a goal, they’re all celebrating. There’s something there compared to other managers that have been in similar positions.’