Jamie Carragher has named two signings to have had a transformative impact at Manchester United, with one in particular catching him by surprise.
Erik ten Hag seems to have Man Utd on track again after starting his work with the club in the summer. After 22 games this season, the Red Devils are third in the Premier League table.
Some of the new players brought to the club under Ten Hag’s regime have helped transform their fortunes. The likes of Lisandro Martinez, Casemiro, Christian Eriksen and Antony have earned plenty of gametime so far.
The former has been especially impressive, given that many pundits – including Carragher – wondered whether a defender of his frame could succeed in the Premier League.
Now, speaking on The Overlap, Carragher has confessed his initial judgement of Martinez was wrong. Indeed, he now credits the World Cup winner, along with Casemiro, as someone who has made Man Utd “more powerful”.
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.
Lisandro Martinez more than coping at Man Utd
“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.”
Martinez has made 31 appearances in all competitions for Man Utd so far after following Ten Hag from Ajax in the summer. Of his 20 Premier League outings, 18 have been as a starter.
Casemiro, meanwhile, has played 30 times since his transfer from Real Madrid. He has started 13 Premier League matches among 17 appearances in the top flight.
For both of them, it has been a first taste of Premier League football. They have certainly adapted well so far, though, helping stabilise the platform from which Ten Hag is constructing his preferred team.