legend Jaap Stam still has some reservations over and is not convinced he can play in a high line, while he has hinted that put too much emphasis on signing players he already knew.
The Red Devils suffered in Tuesday night’s 1-0 defeat to – a result that sees them crash out of Europe entirely – with Jonny Evans finishing the match due to United’s injury crisis at the back.
A foot problem has kept Martinez sidelined since September but he has now returned to training, though former defender Stam is not convinced the Argentine will solve United’s defensive problems.
Speaking on show, Stam said: ‘He’s a good player, he’s got a great mentality as well, he’s very good on the ball. But also he needs to step up as well. He had a reasonable season in his first season, did OK.
‘He’s still not the quickest, so you need to be careful with him as well. I think in very big spaces that’s been exploited a couple of times. Going into battles in the air as well, at times he can be vulnerable as well.
‘But he’s got a great mentality and he is a good player, and if you want to play in a certain way – and you want to play possession-based football – then you need to have players who can do that.’
Martinez is one of a number of recent signings who had played under Ten Hag previously, a trend Stam feels may have been a hindrance particularly if players’ suitability to the Premier League was not factored in sufficiently.
He explained: ‘For a manager, if you want to play in a certain way, you’re looking at players that you have worked with in the past so that they can help you out playing that certain way.
‘Ten Hag has done that as well, but you need to be careful because you also have to look at the league and where you’re at and where you’re going to, and if they can then bring the same level of play in.
‘Now with players that came in, you can see that a lot of them are struggling to bring that level because it’s not only about technical ability, it’s about physique, you need to have legs to run up and down the pitch, you need to be clever, mentally strong as well.
‘So the whole package needs to be there if you want to perform, if you want to go to a certain level.
‘And if you’re looking at the players that are at United now, then it’s hard to find – even within the whole squad – players that you think, “This player is for sure going to make it to the highest level”.’
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