Lisandro Martinez says Erik ten Hag has completed his first big job at Manchester United by changing the culture and mentality at the club.
United found themselves in a dismal position last season, with a change of manager and a host of on-field issues. In the end, they finished sixth in the Premier League and secured Europa League football.
Former interim boss Ralf Rangnick therefore claimed it could take years to restore Man Utd to their former glory.
And it is former Ajax manager Erik ten Hag who took that job on in May. He endured a tough start by overseeing Premier League defeats to Brighton and Brentford.
However, statement Old Trafford wins against Liverpool and Arsenal have – for summer centre-back signing Martinez – ticked off Ten Hag’s top priority of ensuring the players give their all and fight, even if they do not yet have the same quality as their rivals.
“In the beginning, it was no good,” Argentina centre-back Martinez told United’s official website. “It was not what we wanted.
“But we changed direction after Brentford. We changed the mentality, we changed the spirit.
“Then we did an amazing job against Liverpool and then we kept going and you can see now, every game the team is ready to fight.”
Martinez insisted that a team putting in maximum effort is the least Man Utd fans can expect.
In between the wins over Liverpool and Arsenal, the Red Devils picked up wins – and clean sheets to boot – against Southampton and Leicester.
Lisandro Martinez happy with Man Utd progress
“This is Manchester United, no?” Martinez said. “When the teams come to play in our stadium, they have to feel it wasn’t easy for them.
“So yeah, now we feel very well about it.
“The connection with each other is incredible, and I think we did a fantastic job against Liverpool and Arsenal.”
However, Man Utd are still getting to grips with their Europa League campaign.
They lost 1-0 to Real Socidead before a 2-0 win over Sheriff Tiraspol ahead of the international break.
They return to action when facing Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium. The clash with Pep Guardiola’s side will prove a stern test of Ten Hag’s progress.
Defender has brought passion back
Pundits have for so long criticised United’s current squad for their failings in recent years.
For example, Gary Neville has not been surprised to see this season’s bad results, claiming they had already proven they could not handle football at the top level.
Nevertheless, Martinez has brought the passion back to Man Utd which they badly needed.
The team needed a player to take their form by the scruff of the neck and help turn it around. And in displacing club captain Harry Maguire in defence and keeping his role, Martinez has done just that.
What’s more, there is no sign of Martinez shifting from his partnership with Raphael Varane any time soon.
The Argentine is helping bring solidity back to Man Utd – and it is more of those kinds of players that Ten Hag needs to sign.