Lisandro Martinez is out of form and out of sorts… mocked for his erratic defending against Brighton, the £55m star MUST stand up and be the leader Erik ten Hag needs right now ahead of Harry Kane showdown in Munich

Amid the panic and the hysteria there is a measure when Lisandro Martinez speaks.

‘I always say, when something bad happens it’s to bring something good,’ he said in an article for GQ last month.

After plugging in arguably his worst performance in a Manchester United shirt against Brighton, and United falling to three defeats in their opening five games for the first time since 1989, he better hope that ‘something good’ is delivered against Harry Kane and Co in Munich.

Criticism in the Premier League will come as no shock to him. At Manchester United it’s often tenfold.

Last season he and his team-mates were crucified after opening season defeats to Brighton and Brentford. Martinez bounced back from those early struggles last season to establish himself as one of Erik ten Hag‘s key foundational pieces. Against Liverpool at home he was a particular stand-out.

And yet on evidence this season Martinez looks to have regressed significantly – and the numbers back it up.

Lisandro Martinez is having a crisis of confidence right now with his form having regressed

A stats comparison from last season to this show that Martinez is down in almost every metric

A stats comparison from last season to this show that Martinez is down in almost every metric

The World Cup winner, who has been taken off in three of the opening five games so far, is winning fewer aerial duels, making fewer tackles, fewer interceptions, fewer passes and fewer clearances.

Against Brighton, in a patched up back four with a debutant in Sergio Reguilon to his left and an uneasy centre back partner in Victor Lindelof to his right, Martinez looked uncomfortable, if we were being kind, and completely lost, if we weren’t.

Defending with little to no cohesion, Martinez was singled out by former Man United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel for having what he viewed as a hero-complex when it came to the second goal, scored by Pascal Gross.

‘It is kind of what happens at Manchester United at the minute, it is very individual,’ Schmeichel told Premier League Productions.

‘Players, for instance, Martinez, are trying to be a hero and get in and block.

‘People know this. If we look at him there, he puts himself in a position directly in line of the goalkeeper.

Martinez (middle) over-committed himself to block the shot, giving Pascal Gross time to score

Martinez (middle) over-committed himself to block the shot, giving Pascal Gross time to score

Peter Schmeichel slammed Martinez's defending and claimed he was trying to be 'the hero'

Peter Schmeichel slammed Martinez’s defending and claimed he was trying to be ‘the hero’

‘He should be closing down or just stood up trying to block. If you want to block, don’t turn your body, stand tall. Clearly things aren’t right for Manchester United.’

When United signed Martinez last summer for £55million from Ajax it was with a view to recruiting an enforcer as well as a pace setter in building attacks from the back.

While that was true for large spells of last season, this time round Martinez’s impact on the game has waned.

Of 106 qualifying defenders this season, he ranks 95th in duels success (42.86 per cent), while he ranks seventh in defenders who have been dribbled past most by opponents, with Gross the latest to get the better of him.

But go through each of the games this season and there are a litany of mistakes.

In the season opener against Wolves Martinez stepped up past the halfway line in a bid to nip a counter-attack in the bud, only to have Matheus Cunha skip past him with ease, leading to a three-on-two. Pablo Sarabia fizzed a shot wide and Martinez was let off the hook.

Against Tottenham there was a total breakdown in communication between Martinez and Luke Shaw with neither picking up Ben Davies, who eventually helps it in via the deflection of Martinez for an own goal to make it 2-0.

For Nottingham Forest’s second goal he finds himself marking Aaron Wan-Bissaka, rather than Willy Boly, who is behind them both to chest in. Last season those sort of mistakes were uncharacteristic. This season it is increasingly commonplace in a backline that is crying out for leadership.

His own goal at Tottenham, as well as mistakes against Wolves, point to a player out of rhythm

His own goal at Tottenham, as well as mistakes against Wolves, point to a player out of rhythm

At a time of such strife Erik ten Hag needs 'The Butcher' (left) to step up and be their leader

At a time of such strife Erik ten Hag needs ‘The Butcher’ (left) to step up and be their leader

‘Let’s see the same energy for Lisandro Martinez and Victor Lindelof,’ Gabby Agbonlahor said on talkSPORT on Saturday night.

‘Martinez for the Gross goal, he has tried to make a block, he’s got fake-shot by Gross and scored in the back of the net. If that was Harry Maguire, you would not hear the end of it.

‘Harry Maguire must be looking around that changing room now thinking, ‘how am I not getting a chance in this team?’

And so to the Allianz Arena and Munich and Kane.

United used a win over Liverpool as a spark plug for their season a year ago and they need something similar on Wednesday night.

Martinez has not become a bad player overnight but with Raphael Varane still yet to return to his side the onus is on him to galvanise and lead a defensive unit that is ailing, with Wan-Bissaka the latest to head for the treatment room after picking up an injury.

‘Warrior’ and ‘leader’ were two words used by Jamie Carragher, one of his harshest critics, last season. The longer he remains away from that level the more United will continue to look all at sea at the back.

There are few tougher assignments in Europe right now than an attack that boasts Kane, Thomas Muller, Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry, but United have to be harder to beat and much of the leadership is going to fall on the shoulders of Martinez.

‘When something bad happens it’s to bring something good,’ he said. How United fans need that to be true sooner rather than later.

Assignments don't get much tougher right now than taking on Harry Kane and Bayern Munich

Assignments don’t get much tougher right now than taking on Harry Kane and Bayern Munich 

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Source From: Football | Mail Online

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