Carragher warns Lisandro Martinez in for Erling Haaland mauling, as pundit tightens noose on Utd man

Lisandro Martinez, September 2022

Jamie Carragher has admitted that he fears for Lisandro Martinez when Manchester United face Erling Haaland and Manchester City.

The Argentina defender has caught the eye after making a £57million summer move from Ajax to Old Trafford. He immediately faced criticism for his 5ft 7in frame and particularly struggled against Brentford.

Carragher was one of the first to point out Martinez’s height as a major issue going forwards.

And he has stuck with that criticism, with the pundit insisting he cannot look past it despite praising the centre-back for other attributes.

According to other observers, Martinez has brought a passion and desire to work hard back into the United defence. While his height stands out, he has recently kept clean sheets alongside Raphael Varane.

However, Martinez is coming back into view as the Premier League returns with the Manchester derby. And that means Martinez going up against 11-goal Man City striker Haaland.

Writing in his latest column for The Telegraph, Carragher claimed the “best advice” for the defender is to “keep away” from the Norwegian.

And he added that Martinez should actually “curb” the trait which serves him best – “his desire to engage by continuously hunting down and tackling his opponents”.

“Haaland will be waiting for him to dive into challenges knowing one mistake can be fatal,” Carragher wrote.

Carragher pointed to his own experiences as a schoolboy, when he would try to win duels “no matter how winnable”.

He insisted that Martinez has to be careful that Haaland does not make a mockery of the defender with his pace, strength and obvious height advantage.

Carragher cannot shake Lisandro Martinez concerns

The former Liverpool centre-back added: “He looks a little too short to play centre-back in the Premier League.

“We saw when United struggled badly against Brentford – a game where Martínez was subbed at half-time – how difficult it is for him if sides hit long balls into the penalty area to a striker relishing such service like Ivan Toney.

“There is nothing you can do about a height disadvantage when forced into continuous aerial challenges.”

Carragher did admit that some of Europe’s best centre-backs in the past have been under 6ft.

However, he pointed out that it is “premature” to think Martinez will be “pretty much 10 out of 10 in every other department” – as those aforementioned greats were.

As for stopping Man City’s other players, Carragher insisted that Varane has a big role to play.

“This weekend, Varane will be as responsible as Martínez in trying to keep Haaland quiet and it is the team’s responsibility to limit the supply line, whether it is full-backs or wide midfielders stopping crosses getting into the penalty area, or central midfielders getting closer to playmakers,” the pundit commented.

D-Day for Man Utd man

One thing is clear: we will know by full-time on Sunday just how competent Martinez is against tall, athletic and strong strikers like Haaland.

Martinez will know he is in a game, with Haaland making goalscoring look like clockwork.

We will also truly know whether height will be an issue for Martinez after his match-up with Man City.

There are not many better strikers around in the world right now than Haaland.

And the Norwegian has taken to the Premier League so well that he will see Man Utd as just another opponent.

He will surely fancy his chances if he can get at Martinez and Varane, who will have to be on top form.