Erik ten Hag has found the solution to Lisandro Martinez absence against Barcelona – Casey Evans

The reason? Martinez is a left-footed centre-back which is incredibly important to how the Dutch manager wants his side to play. He told United&aposs internal media when he first joined: “Because the left-footed are better orientated on the left side, in possession you then have better angles.”

However, the final group stage match of the Europa League presented Ten Hag with a dilemma. Martinez picked up a yellow card meaning he would be suspended for the club&aposs knockout match, and who else would they draw but Barcelona.

It was not obvious who would replace Martinez in the line-up but as the Premier League season resumed the Argentinian inadvertently provided the answer. While away celebrating his World Cup win, Ten Hag had to find a solution and with Victor Lindelof ill and Harry Maguire recovering from an injury he settled on Luke Shaw.

Though he had played the role as part of a three under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Shaw had never played as a centre-back in a two before he lined up there against Nottingham Forest.

However, he impressed with a composed performance in and out of possession and then he continued this form into the game against Wolves. Ten Hag said after the Forest game that it seemed like he had played there his entire life.

Given how important it is that his left centre-back is left-footed, it seems that Shaw may resume his duties in the position when United face up against Xavi&aposs Barcelona side in February.