‘Keep away… you can’t stop him physically’: Jamie Carragher gives blunt advice to Man United’s 5ft 9in star Lisandro Martinez, who he STILL says is too short, on trying to handle 6ft 4in Erling Haaland
Jamie Carragher was warned Lisandro Martinez to ‘keep away’ from Erling Haaland in Sunday’s Manchester derby, as the centre back is unlikely to outmuscle him.
Martinez was criticised for being too small after Manchester United lost 4-0 to Brentford earlier this season, but he has since become a cult hero at Old Trafford for his tenacious defending and leadership.
The 24-year-old has formed an impressive partnership with Raphael Varane, with the pair keeping three clean sheets in their last five games.
Jamie Carragher has offered Lisandro Martinez advice on dealing with Erling Haaland
For Carragher, though, facing City’s number nine will prove a much tougher test for the defender. He wrote in the Telegraph: ‘Haaland may have been kept quiet by Martínez in Ajax’s Champions League game against Borussia Dortmund last season (the Dutch won 4-0) but the Norwegian is currently the best striker in the world.’
The former Liverpool man offered advice on how Martinez could curb his natural game to deal with Haaland. He said: ‘The most visible asset in his first United appearances – his desire to engage by continuously hunting down and tackling his opponents – is what he may need to curb most this weekend.
‘Haaland will be waiting for him to dive into challenges knowing one mistake can be fatal.
‘Some battles can be won by outmuscling or outplaying an opponent. Other players need out-thinking.’
The 44-year-old compared the battle to when he played against Didier Drogba: ‘He wanted to sense the breath of his marker on his shoulder. If you got too close it made his mind up what he was going to do whenever the ball was played into his feet.
‘Hence, the idea when higher up the pitch was to keep away from him as much as could be reasonably allowed and give him more to think about when he received possession.’
‘Like Drogba, Haaland is one of those strikers who can produce extraordinary moments out of nothing. That’s why such players are so expensive.’
Despite his success in recent months, Carragher still felt Martinez’s height could hold him back. He said: ‘It is well known that some of the greatest centre-backs of all time, including Italy’s Franco Baresi, Argentina’s Daniel Passarella and England’s Bobby Moore, were less than 6ft, proving size is no barrier to being a world-class centre-half.
‘The difference is they were pretty much 10 out of 10 in every other department, compensating for the one weakness they could do nothing about. It is premature to suggest Martínez will be so flawless in every other facet of his game.’