Manchester United news: Why Daley Blind is not surprised with Lisandro Martinez adapting to centre-back role in EPL?

Among the many signings Man United made, the one which stood out was that of Lisandro Martinez.

File Photo - Lisandro Martinez in action for Manchester United. Credits: Twitter/@ManUtd
By Karthik Raman | Jun 22, 2023 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

Manchester United had a season to remember in 2022-23 with club meeting plenty of their targets. There was a lot of scrutiny on United after the disappointing 2021-22 campaign they had. It led to a manager change with Erik ten Hag tasked with bringing the club back to its glory days. He did just that in helping the Red Devils establish themselves as one of the forces to be reckoned with in the division.

The Red Devils finished an unlikely third to seal a return to Champions League football, while they also won a trophy in the form of EFL Cup. Besides, Manchester United also reached the final of the FA Cup and went deep in the Europa League. A lot of credit must be given to Erik ten Hag for bringing in the winning mentality. However, his summer recruits also played a part in the club achieving their goals.

Among the many signings Man United made, the one which stood out was that of Lisandro Martinez. The Argentine centre-back quickly became a fan favourite for his aggressive defensive style and tireless work rate. However, it was not all easy going for Martinez, as many pundits and some supporters also questioned whether he could play as a Premier League centre-back despite not being tall enough.

‘In England, there is like this image of a centre-back’

It is something former United defender Daley Blind can relate to. He also faced the same criticism when former manger Louis van Gaal deployed him in the heart of the defence. “At the moment I started playing centre-back, I think there were some critical notes about my height or my, how do you say it… I don’t look like Vidic, for example. He looked like a warrior and he was a great defender,” he told UTD Podcast.

“I think in England there is like this image of a centre-back and how it should be done, and how a player of the centre should be looked at in the way he is. But I think nowadays you can fill the centre in different ways. Like Martinez, he is a great centre-back. He is so aggressive, he’s really good with his feet, he’s really good at tackling, so you cannot write him off just because he’s maybe not the height you expect him to be. But I think he showed himself directly that he is capable of everything in the Premier League.”

Daley Blind goes down memory lane

Blind then went down the memory lane to speak about how challenging it was for him in adapting to that position. “I think in the beginning for me it was a challenge. It was a challenge to show myself in that position because I remember Bastian Schweinsteiger came in. I was playing in midfield then,” he added. “He was coming in for that midfield position and he’s such a big player, such a great footballer and I thought ‘okay, now my position is probably gone’, you know? 

“I was a bit down and the manager saw that and at one point he came to me and said, ‘Daley don’t worry I have a position for you in mind and be ready for that’. The next game I was centre-back. I think I remember we played Aston Villa and that was my first game and I played really good. I won some headers!  Yeah from that point I stayed there and I had a really good co-operation with Smalling and I enjoyed it in the back.”

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