Why Blind understands the scrutiny Licha overcame

Thursday 22 June 2023 16:14

Daley Blind has heaped praise on Lisandro Martinez’s talismanic debut season at Manchester United and described his former Ajax team-mate as “a great centre-back”.

The Argentina international joined last summer to link up with Erik ten Hag and, at that time, external voices in the media paid close attention to his height. 

While Martinez was typically unaffected, United fans took great delight in witnessing his superb performances and he quickly became a cult hero among our supporters, with 'Argentina, Argentina, Argentina' chanted at almost every game.

Indeed, Licha finished third in the voting for our Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award and it was revealed today that his no.6 shirt was the third most popular on United Direct across 2022/23. 

Revealed: Most popular shirts of 22/23


Which current player was our fans' favourite on United Direct? Check out the countdown here.

Of course, Blind knows exactly what it’s like to be a diminutive defender in English football, having played at centre-back during his four-season spell at United. 

In our latest UTD Podcast, the versatile and popular ex-Red speaks passionately about the image of defenders in England and Martinez’s top form. 

“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,” laughs Daley. “He looked like a warrior and he was a great defender.

“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.  

“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 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?  
Watch Daley Blind's UTD Podcast in full Video

Watch Daley Blind's UTD Podcast in full

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“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.”

Watch Daley Blind's UTD Podcast in full for more stories from the Dutchman.

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