Ten Hag singles out ‘personality and character’ of Man Utd duo amid Casemiro, Varane praise

Erik ten Hag has heaped praise on former Ajax players Lisandro Martinez and Antony after Manchester United’s Carabao Cup triumph.

The Red Devils ended their long wait for a trophy with a 2-0 victory over Newcastle United on Sunday.

Ten Hag has turned things around at Old Trafford after taking over from Ralf Rangnick at the end of last season.

United were in disarray last term under both Rangnick and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and it is very impressive how quickly Ten Hag has been able to make the previously struggling squad look like a very competent team.

The showpiece match at Wembley was fairly comfortable for Ten Hag’s men and the Dutchman has urged his players to be “happy for 24 hours” before turning their focus to winning more silverware between now and the end of 2022-23.

Much of United’s success this term has been down to the positive summer transfer window they had.

The club’s hierarchy backed Ten Hag with £200million worth of players, including five-time Champions League winner Casemiro.

The Brazilian midfielder has brought a winning mentality to Old Trafford and has barely put a foot wrong – barring the two suspensions he has picked up.

Casemiro’s success at Real Madrid was emphasised before the final on Sunday and singled out as a potential difference maker on the day.

The 31-year-old scored the opening goal on his way to winning his first trophy in England, alongside his former Madrid teammate Varane, who joined the club in the summer of 2021.

Varane and Casemiro’s experience was telling on the day, but it was Ten Hag’s two former players at Ajax, Martinez and Antony, he was eager to praise after the win against Newcastle.

Martinez has won the World Cup and Copa America with Argentina and claimed four trophies during his time in the Netherlands.

Antony, on the other hand, won three trophies with Ajax.

Ten Hag appreciated Varane and Casemiro before praising the two players he knows very well.

“Before the game you asked me about the influence of Casemiro and Rapha Varane – they know how to win trophies – look at all the Champions League wins they had,” the United manager said.

“But I think Martinez – I had him in Ajax, won trophies with him – the same with Antony. You need that personality and typical character in your squad to win in the end. Martinez is definitely one of them.

“You can count on him and you can rely on him and he showed that again today. That bond together with Rapha is really strong. As a manager on the sidelines, you are composed and can have confidence they will sort it out.”

During the celebrations, Ten Hag was seen dancing with Martinez and Antony, a tradition from their time together with Ajax.

“We have a history together, Licha and Antony,” the 53-year-old explained. “In Amsterdam, we did some dancing and I hope we can do it even more in the future.

“Therefore we have to invest, we have to sacrifice, we have to suffer every day to win trophies.”

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