Brentford manager Thomas Frank told his side to target Manchester United’s new 5ft 9 in centre-back Lisandro Martinez on Saturday.
“We knew we’d more likely either win it or the second ball around it,” Frank told Sky Sports after the match when asked if Martinez was deliberately targeted. “Of course we looked at what Brighton did well against them, and Brighton are also like us in the way they want to play.
“Normally Brighton always build from the goalkeeper, but they went long every single time so of course we looked at that. We knew we had that weapon so that’s why we did it.”
The west London club won the match 4-0 so it goes without saying that Frank’s tactics paid dividends.
Martinez was targeted by long balls throughout the first half, and he was bullied by Brentford defender Ben Mee when the hosts made it 3-0 before Bryan Mbeumo sealed the win.
🗣 “We knew more likely that we would either win it or have the second ball around it.”
Thomas Frank on being asked if his side targeted the 5’9 central defender Lisandro Martínez during their 4-0 win over Manchester United. pic.twitter.com/ILdF9V0HSk
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) August 13, 2022
Footage courtesy of Sky Sports (H/t Football Daily)
Erik ten Hag took his new signing off at half-time – but all eleven deserved to be hauled off. The manager later said any of them could have been taken off at the break.
There is no denying that Martinez struggled to cope with Brentford’s physicality and aerial prowess. That will become a problem against other teams unless United can cancel out the basic mistakes at the back.
We need to improve at playing out from the back and that is one of Martinez’s biggest strengths.
While I think it would be foolish to write off Martinez’s ability to play at centre-back in the Premier League, footballer turned pundit Jamie Redknapp has already made up his mind about the Argentina international.
“If you’re going to sign a 5ft 9in centre-back, he’s not going to be able to compete in this league,” Redknapp said during Sky Sports’ post-match coverage.
“He might be okay in the Dutch league where it’s not quite as physical but when you play here you know week in, week out teams are looking to expose any weakness like Brentford did today, like Brighton did last week and like Liverpool will do.
“Every team will play on him because he’s 5ft 9in and not tall enough. He’s actually a small midfielder let alone a small centre-back.
“He’ll need time. Maybe he can play in midfield. Technically he’s a good player, he’s played in the Dutch league and he knows the game. But as a centre-back in this league I think it’s really difficult and you get exposed very quickly.”