Graeme Souness eats humble pie with Lisandro Martinez and Man Utd U-turn

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Graeme Souness admits that Manchester United defender Lisandro Martinez made him eat his own words in his maiden season in England. Martinez has proven doubters wrong en masse after joining Erik ten Hag at Old Trafford in a £57million deal last summer.

Ten Hag raised eyebrows with his determination to splash such a sum on Martinez in a physical competition like the Premier League, considering his 5ft 9 frame.

And concerns intensified after a nightmare start to his reign with back-to-back defeats to Brighton and Hove Albion and Brentford.

Souness was among those questioning Ten Hag for investing a chunk of his first budget on a sub-6ft central defender.

But while providing the Mail with a joint Liverpool and United XI amid their battle for a top-four spot, the departing Sky Sports pundit partnered Virgil van Dijk with Martinez.

He wrote: “United are the ones who have to keep their nerve in these all-important two weeks.

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“I ascribe some of their fall-off in form to the absence of Lisandro Martinez. They’ve have won only three of their six league matches since he was injured at Sevilla.

“I thought Martinez would get found out in the Premier League because of his physique.

“I still believe that will be an issue for him going forward – but he is one who leads from the front for United and has a big influence on those around him.

“He is one of the four United players who do make my composite team, along with Casemiro, who also has that winning mentality, Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes. But Liverpool players dominate my XI.”

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United lost Martinez through a season-ending fractured metatarsal while cruising at 2-0 in their Europa League quarter-final first leg against Sevilla. The tie plummeted downhill from there.

But despite the Red Devils being in pole position to finish above Liverpool for the second time in three seasons, Souness included just four names in his combined XI.

Allison, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson completed the defence, with Casemiro, Jordan Henderson and Bruno Fernandes in midfield.

There was also room for Marcus Rashford on the left wing, joining Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez in Souness’ attack.

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