Manchester United staff believe lack of leadership felt in Martínez’s absence

Manchester United staff believe lack of leadership felt in Martínez’s absence

Manchester United coaching staff believe their squad has too few vocal leaders and that the injured Lisandro Martínez has been sorely missed in that regard.

The defender has missed 37 of United’s 48 games owing to foot, knee and calf problems, including Monday’s humiliating 4-0 defeat at Crystal Palace. The Guardian understands Erik ten Hag’s coaching staff have noticed how much quieter the changing-room environment is in Martínez’s absence and believe this had been detrimental to performances and results.

Although Martínez is not the only vocal player, his presence is considered vital in creating a winning mentality and driving the squad on. The captain, Bruno Fernandes, is the on-field leader and leads by example.

Martínez has played only five times since 20 September and United hope he will be available consistently next season and be a key factor in a more successful campaign after this largely disappointing one.

Ten Hag’s position is under renewed scrutiny after the loss at Palace, a 13th defeat for United this season, their highest number of defeats in a Premier League campaign. With three games remaining Ten Hag’s team are eighth, a place below Chelsea, who are level on points but have a goal difference superior by 14. Seventh is the lowest league place that could lead to European qualification.

United may need to beat Manchester City in the FA Cup final on 25 May to secure a European place and Ten Hag is set to remain in charge for that match.

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Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who controls United’s football policy, will decide Ten Hag’s long-term future and is conscious that there may be a paucity of suitable replacements. This may save Ten Hag’s job in the short term and mean the manager is given the start of next season to prove himself.