I don’t know if you know this about Lisandro Martinez, but he is 5’9″. I say this because I don’t think many people have mentioned it.
Nobody has mentioned it except opposition fans and every media outlet and radio pundit and phone-in. The point has been drummed into people that his height suddenly means he can’t play the position, there may be a sense of if you repeat something enough it may become true in people’s eyes and that certainly is what is happening.
Most of the ex-footballers who are asked about this seem to mention his height and not much else, almost seemingly focusing on this physical characteristic rather than any other aspect of his game.
It would seem to a laymen that this is either some very weird attack on the player or something to cover up for the fact they haven’t seen anything of him or know anything about him.
A common trope for pundits wheeled out is to basically regurgitate stereotypes on a player based on what they have heard or the little they have seen even if this is complete rubbish to anyone who has watched this player.
I understand a need to produce content or a discussion but most of the time it just boils down to laziness and showing a glaring lack of knowledge of any other type of football beyond our own borders.
Just to reiterate Lisandro Martinez is 5’9”, I don’t think many people have said it.
Also, height is no issue with Fabio Cannavaro or the great Franco Baresi who are regarded as a couple of the greatest defenders ever. But spoiler alert they are also 5’9” so I guess it’s more the size of the fight in the dog rather than the size of the dog in the fight.
There isn’t this level of discussion of height when the player is a striker for example in 1997, I don’t think there was a conversation about how Gianfranco Zola would struggle up against big bruising British defenders, he won the FWA player of the year without even playing the full season.
Height or any other characteristics shouldn’t really make a difference it should be more can he play that role the manager asks of him? But people need to talk and need talking points so I guess this is a subject that will lay dormant until he makes a mistake.
I think people sometimes just see what they want to see, and this height thing is no different really, we are conditioned to how we think certain positions should play and the attributes they should possess.
A British defender should be tall, strong, and up to the physical challenge of the Premier League for example, but this stereotype is changing ironically with the influx of foreign players/coaches and ideas.
Not to go out on a limb here but I do think that a man like Erik ten Hag who has coached Lisandro Martinez every day and sees him up close both in his play and in his demeanour and character might know if he is up to the challenge better than an ex-pro or rent-a-gob presenter looking for interactions on social media.
His first two games were a little shaky at least against Brighton and Brentford but let’s be honest no United player came out of those games with any real credit. But in the third game he really showed his qualities by putting in a superb display to help United beat Liverpool.
His tenacity in the tackle, his ability to remain calm and use the ball well even under pressure were there for all to see. He already looks like the kind of player that will be a cult hero at the club and rightfully so, a no-nonsense defender who has passion for defending and a few of the dark arts that United have lacked over the last few years.
Of course, the sample size is very small (no jokes please) in that as of writing this he has only played five games, but I do feel that he will fit in very well into the new side Erik ten Hag is building.
His partnership with Raphael Varane seems a very good one so far and if Varane can stay fit then it really could blossom into something very special. But for me it is his partnership with young Tyrell Malacia that really excites me.
The left-hand side of United’s defence has been a long-term problem but these two have the potential to turn this weakness into a strength. Also add in new signing Casemiro into the midfield to shield this new look defence and suddenly this team looks more solid.
Martinez has won a lot more of his duels than many people will tell you but unfortunately it will only be after playing an Erling Haaland or Aleksandar Mitrovic that he will get the credit his deserves.
His passion and love for defending and tackles has won me over so far, I am keen to see how he will do in the rest of the season. Hopefully we can talk about his performances and not his height, did I mention he is only 5’9”?