Jaap Stam warns Man Utd will hold shipping targets if Erik ten Hag fails to find solution for pint-sized Lisandro Martinez

YOU needed a map to bypass Jaap – but there’s no art in getting over Mart.

Manchester United have a major weakness in the acquisition of Lisandro Martinez.

Martinez has endured a baptism of fire since arriving in the Premier League

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Martinez has endured a baptism of fire since arriving in the Premier LeagueCredit: Alamy
Stam believes Ten Hag has a serious problem when it comes to Martinez

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Stam believes Ten Hag has a serious problem when it comes to MartinezPhoto credit: Rex

That’s the opinion of club legend and former centre-back Jaap Stam, who has seen Martinez fight in his old position in his first two games for the Red Devils.

Three-time winner Stam was a commanding presence at the back at 6ft 3in – something the 5ft 9in Argentinian Martinez is not.

The £48.3million summer signing from Ajax – where he played under new United boss Erik ten Hag – was targeted and exposed in both defeats by Brighton and Brentford.

And Stam fears this will continue as bitter rivals Liverpool are next up at Old Trafford on Monday.

Speaking to Safe Betting Sites UK, the 50-year-old stressed: “I’ve always said it from the start, when he went to United I said, ‘They’re probably going to talk about his size.’

“It’s common in the Premier League for teams to look for centre-backs who are strong and tall because of the physical part of the game.

“Bringing him in is a challenge for him. It will be interesting how he adapts.

“People criticize him because of his size – and also the coach a bit for bringing him in.

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“He fights in the dogfights. You don’t have to be very tall to be a good centre-back, even in the Premier League, if you’re smart enough you can handle a lot of situations.

“But you can see set pieces, which are becoming a very big thing in football, especially in the Premier League, need to be able to fight in the air and win your dogfights.

“You see in the games against Brentford and Brighton, if the opponents play long balls, they will put them on him because a lot of the time he will lose them.

“If Ten Hag keeps Martinez on the pitch, they have to find a solution to deal with that.

“Otherwise it happens again and again.”

It certainly happened to Brentford in the half-hour on Saturday when Ben Mee won the dogfight at the far post to score the Bees’ third goal en route to a 4-0 lead at half-time.

At the break, 24-year-old Martinez – nicknamed The Butcher – was hooked by Ten Hag and replaced by Raphael Varane.

It will be interesting to see who takes on Liverpool in three days, with United sitting bottom in the Prem.

Captain Harry Maguire’s place is also not certain.

Stam, who won a hat-trick of Premier League titles, the FA Cup and the Champions League in his three seasons at Old Trafford between 1998 and 2001, can see Maguire struggling.

But he believes the England defender needs more support from the players around him who are just too static.

Stam added: “Harry can do better than what he’s shown.

“To be fair to him, it’s also important what the players around him are doing.

“This manager is asking things of him that he may not always be used to.

“It takes time to get the confidence to work and the confidence to perform better.

“It’s important that the players next to him but also in front of him, the midfielders, help him and give him the right options.

“For example, in the moments against Brentford, they got caught sometimes.

“He played it into Christian Eriksen who lost it and had to be backtracked and committed a foul on the edge of the box.

“These are situations where players can help Maguire a lot more so he can just play the ball to his side and then they’re out. These are not difficult things.

“Diogo Dalot on the right, he has to help Maguire too by taking the right positions. Often that doesn’t help him.

“Now United are playing with one defending champion instead of two, which also makes it more difficult and easier for the opponent to press. These are things that can help Maguire.

“He sometimes makes defensive decisions that aren’t the right ones – but so are many of the players around him.

“United need to make it clear how they need to defend themselves and invest more energy if someone goes wrong.

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“If they lose the ball, they all have to bounce back – sometimes, even in possession, they’re just waiting for the man with the ball to make a decision.

“When someone has the ball at their feet, the others have to make moves to give options.

“These are things that the manager is probably working on but are not always shown on the pitch.”

https://www.the-sun.com/sport/6031166/jaap-stam-man-utd-erik-ten-hag-lisandro-martinez/ Jaap Stam warns Man Utd will hold shipping targets if Erik ten Hag fails to find solution for pint-sized Lisandro Martinez

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