Anthony Martial making his Manchester United debut against Liverpool in 2015.

Match Rewind: Vote for the best United debut

Monday 08 June 2020 11:00

Our 'Match Rewind' series is back with an individual slant this week, as we continue to maintain your supply of 'live' retro football before the resumption of the 2019/20 season on 19 June.

Three days each week, we're asking you to choose between four top United matches, with the winning game to be streamed in full, for free, via the homepage and our Official App.
Today, we're offering up four debuts that shook the football world. Ronaldo, Rooney, Martial and Rashford all knew how to make an entrance on the big stage, but which do you want to relive in full? Read on as we help you try to decide...
The summer of 2003 is now remembered for the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United, and little wonder. Within five years of his debut against Bolton Wanderers, United were champions of Europe, and the Portuguese wizard was being presented with the Ballon d'Or award. But at the time, a lot of Reds were concerned, as the much-loved David Beckham had been sold to Real Madrid and Ronaldo was an unknown. That all changed, however, when he entered the pitch on the opening day of the Premier League season, with United hosting Bolton Wanderers at Old Trafford.
Ronaldo tears it up in a devastating cameo against Bolton.
United were 1-0 up when Ronaldo replaced Nicky Butt in the 61st minute. By full-time, we'd trounced the Trotters 4-0, with the man from Madeira unveiling his full range of whirling sleights and tricks. Cristiano didn't score, but he did everything else, and the three goals that followed arrived directly from the pandemonium he fomented in the Wanderers' defence. At full-time, the ground was agog at what they'd just seen, with old blokes murmuring comparisons to George Best and the youngsters begging for a new name on the back of their replica shirts.
Unless you were living under a rock during the year 2004, you won't need too much reminding of this one. Wayne Rooney was already a phenomenon when he rocked up in M16 following a blistering showing at that summer's Euros, where he'd looked set to drag England to victory in the entire tournament prior to an untimely injury against Portugal in the quarter-finals. But still the question remained: how would he negotiate the pressure of playing for England's biggest team, under Sir Alex Ferguson, after making a mega-money move from Everton to United?
Very quickly, we had the answer. Rooney's debut came at the highest level, in the Champions League, but it made no difference. The young Scouser simply terrorised Fenerbahce like he'd terrorised the Arsenal defence when becoming the Premier League's new youngest goalscorer. Like he'd terrorised Lilian Thuram, no less, at Euro 2004. He rifled home two in the first half, and then proved he could take free-kicks in the second, just for good measure. It was a stunning hat-trick, completing one of – if not the greatest – United debuts in history.
Anthony Martial's United chant famously references the sceptical media talk that followed his surprise signing from Monaco in 2015, and then glories in the mockery he soon made of all that cynicism. The Frenchman would score 17 goals in his maiden Reds campaign but, in reality, for the fans, he repaid his transfer fee within 21 minutes of pulling on the shirt. With his very first shot.
Martial shakes hands with Louis van Gaal after making a big impact.
The context is different when Liverpool are in town – or when we go to Anfield, for that matter – and the nature and timing of Martial's first United goal thrust him a good way down the path to superstardom. Second-half goals from Daley Blind and Ander Herrera had given us a 2-0 lead over Brendan Rodgers' side, but a stunning overhead kick from Christian Benteke had given the Scousers hope with just over five minutes left. But almost immediately after, the ball was worked out to Martial on the left wing. Despite the narrow advantage, despite the little time remaining on the clock, he unhesitatingly moved inwards towards goal, towards danger. You know the rest. Easing past the Liverpool defence, he found himself one-on-one with Simon Mignolet, who was easily bypassed with the trademark Martial-style finish: a smooth, curled, instep sweep across the goalkeeper. A beautiful moment for Old Trafford; a glorious debut for the young Frenchman.
Later that same season, it was Martial's misfortune that offered another young hopeful their first-team debut. The 20-year-old had been due to start the second leg of our round-of-32 UEFA Europa League tie with FC Midtjylland – which we trailed 2-1 – but went down in the warm-up. Enter the teenage Marcus Rashford – a player whom only a few keen youth-team observers were closely aware of at that stage.
Within four days, Rashford was near enough a household name, after two goals on debut against the Danes (helping United thrash Midtjylland 5-1 to progress) and another two against Arsenal in the Premier League. In case you've been away for a while, he's become quite the footballer. But it all began here, with a fearless display in a pressure situation, leading the line for his boyhood club.
Rashford wheels away in joy after scoring against Midtjylland.
You can select which of the four matches you want to see by voting in our Match Rewind live blog.
The vote closes at 11:00 BST on Tuesday (9 June) and we’ll show the winning game in full, and for free, on the Official App and at 19:00 BST later that evening.
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