Lisandro Martinez says Manchester United must fight for the badge and treat every match as a final after bouncing back from a meek loss at Newcastle that saw them fall short of the club’s standards.
This has been a first season of progress and promise under Erik ten Hag, but there have been some chastening losses along the way that have required the team to respond with a show of character.
United managed to do that once again at Old Trafford on Wednesday night, three days on from the passionless 2-0 defeat at top-four rivals Newcastle.
“It was a massive three points for us,” the United centre-back said. “We want to be there, especially to qualify for the Champions League.
Marcus Rashford’s first-half strike proved enough to see off surprise package Brentford 1-0 and Martinez says Champions League qualification “is up to us” after they moved back into the top four.
“I really liked the reaction of the team, the effort as well. We won the game and that was good.
“(The manager) was happy. We have to keep going but with this mentality, not like against Newcastle. I’m really happy for the team and really proud as well.
“Now we get the three points and we have to think now to Everton and we have to work a lot.”
Ten Hag called on his players to become winning machines after malfunctioning at St James’ Park, with Luke Shaw labelling the performance “unacceptable”.
The United left-back felt Newcastle won that match on “passion, hunger, desire, attitude”, adding “they clearly had that higher motivation than we (had).”
“I totally agree with him,” Martinez said. “It’s not possible when you lose this kind of game, especially against Newcastle.
“Now every game is a final and you have to play with passion, you have to be ready, you have to be sharp, you have to fight for these three points.
“If you don’t do that, I think it’s not (showing) respect for this club. You have to be always every game fighting. Fighting for the badge.”
That loss to Newcastle led to some cutting criticism from high-profile former players, but Martinez suggested United’s response came from introspection rather than listening to outside comments.
“We spoke, we spoke as a team,” the Argentina international said. “We know that it is not possible to play (like that), especially these kind of games.
“Like I said in the beginning, we have to fight more than the opponent, we have to play with more passion, we have to play with more energy, you know?
“In the end, we have a really good squad, so we have to have everyone ready to play.”
Ten Hag’s men host Everton on Saturday lunchtime, with Brentford welcoming in-form Newcastle later that afternoon as Thomas Frank’s side look to get back to winning ways.
Bees wing-back Mads Roerslev said: “Obviously, we are disappointed that we lost.
“We came out with effort but lacked a bit of quality on the ball, especially during the first half.
“It was very frustrating to concede from a set-piece. We know that in games like this, it’s the margins that decide the result. Set-pieces are a strength for us, so we’re disappointed about that.
“We came out good in the second half and tried to create. Sadly, we didn’t get a goal. We came here to win, and we’ll take the next game as we always do and go for the win again.”