By G9ija…

Manchester United’s defence has undergone a major overhaul since the opening two defeats of the season.

Captain Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw have been dropped following their parts in the losses to Brighton and Hove Albion and Brentford while Lisandro Martinez and Diogo Dalot have remained. United have since flourished without the England internationals, in the Premier League.

Martinez has become a rock in the centre of defence alongside Raphael Varane pushing Maguire out of the picture while Tyrell Malacia’s promising start to life in England has scuppered hopes of a return for Shaw. In his relatively short spell in the United dugout, Erik ten Hag has set a precedent that a winning team will not be changed.

With United currently on a four-game winning streak in domestic competition, it is likely that neither Maguire nor Shaw will break into the team to face City in the derby next weekend. On international duty with Argentina, Martinez was asked to explain how he overcame the criticism and lack of form to bounce back and his answer will not have made good reading for the United pair.

“To be honest, it’s a dream come true to be playing at such a big club as Manchester United, especially playing in the Premier League, which I think is one of the best leagues in the world,” he told TyC Sports. “It’s nice to catch the rhythm of the Premier League, so I’m very happy.

“I don’t pay attention [to criticism]. I believe in myself, I trust myself.

“I always work hard every day. That’s what’s going to give you results at the end.”

With a starting berth in the Premier League looking unlikely at present, the English duo now have a sizeable challenge on their hands to rediscover their form. Working hard in training is the bear minimum for a footballer, especially one in the top flight.

However, regular minutes in a competitive environment is how a player can improve their game. Martinez has shown this himself with his performances in the league. In his won words he has ‘caught the rhythm of the Premier League’.

The 24-year-old has played his way back into form and the longer it goes on with Maguire and Shaw sitting on the bench the harder it will be for the duo to match that. Occasional minutes in the Europa League will not be enough to convince Ten Hag that they should be playing, no matter how good their performances are because of the calibre of opposition.

Martinez is moving from strength-to-strength at Old Trafford and should this continue, the two out-of-favour United stars will find it difficult to remain part of Ten Hag’s plans never mind those of their international manager.