A LEADER OF MEN
However Martinez’s recognition and significance to Ten Hag’s rising staff goes past mere traits. It’s seen in little moments that aren’t usually seen by the TV cameras and the tabloids.
When Bruno Fernandes scored our second purpose in opposition to Tottenham Hotspur in October 2022 – a efficiency extensively thought of United’s greatest for years – Martinez ran straight into the arms not of the Portuguese, however the full-back normally stationed instantly to his left, Luke Shaw. Collectively, they then made for Raphael Varane and Casemiro. These are the little moments that strengthen a high-performance tradition: a staff spirit.
A lot was product of the backslapping and excessive fives seen all through the early months underneath Ten Hag. Defending is difficult work, after all, however the best way Martinez does it appears infectious, and his enthusiasm has clearly rubbed off on arguably extra attack-minded defenders like Shaw and Diogo Dalot.
There’s little doubt that this tallies with the United ethos too. The membership is famed for its Ballon d’Or winners, its entertainers – Legislation, Finest, Charlton, Ronaldo and plenty of extra – however underpinning our success has at all times been a need to run longer, sort out more durable and battle extra tirelessly than the opposition. From Nobby Stiles to Bryan Robson, from Roy Keane to Wayne Rooney, we love those that go away all of it on the market; those that play like we’d prefer to, if solely we had a scintilla of the required footballing capability.
— Lisandro Martinez (@LisandrMartinez) October 22, 2022
MARTINEZ AND MANCHESTER
After which there’s the connection Martinez has with our match-going followers. As he left the pitch after that Tottenham win, the participant was serenaded with extra of these ferocious ‘Argentina!’ chants by the Stretford Finish. Clearly moved, Martinez informed membership media: “To be trustworthy, it’s very emotional for me. Once I heard the followers singing, I needed to cry.”
After Casemiro’s dramatic late equaliser at Stamford Bridge final season, a well-known photograph was taken displaying Martinez and a fan within the away finish locked in an intense celebration. It’s onerous to place a value on the worth of such fan and participant interplay.
Maybe Argentinian gamers really feel a way of gentle trepidation once they determine to maneuver to England. In any case, the 2 international locations had been in battle solely 40 years in the past, properly inside residing reminiscence. However Martinez, like Cantona and plenty of others, has discovered sanctuary in Manchester, an immigrant metropolis that has a historical past of embracing and honouring the range of those who make it their residence.
“He’s the sort of participant we’d been ready for,” says Florencia. “His ardour has captivated us all. I like how the followers cheer for him by chanting ‘Argentina, Argentina!’ At first, I keep in mind he was actually stunned by that.
“After United’s recreation in opposition to Fulham at Craven Cottage, somebody threw him a flag from the away finish, and he managed to seize it. It was a really particular present for him forward of the World Cup.”
Whether or not that was the fortunate allure which swung it for the Albiceleste in that epochal last in opposition to France, we’ll by no means know. However what we do know for sure is that United followers couldn’t look ahead to Martinez’s return to Manchester. At any time when Lionel Scaloni opted to not begin him in Qatar, on the favour of Cristian Romero or Nicolas Otamendi, there was widespread bemusement. For a lot of Reds, there is no such thing as a centre-half in world soccer they’d somewhat see on the coronary heart of a defence than Licha.
“Everybody was gutted to see him go away Ajax,” admits Den Breejen, “however all of us needed him to take up this chance as properly. So, it was a little bit of blended emotions for me. However when gamers are leaving, I’d somewhat it was to United than anyplace else.
“In my Ajax-supporting days, we’ve been very spoilt with having native, Amsterdam-born gamers in our staff, and that’s what’s wanted to maintain the connection to the neighborhood. However the favourites are normally the gamers who got here from overseas that simply actually fought for the membership; that basically knew what the membership was about. And Martinez was one in all them. For me, it’s nice to see that it labored like that at Ajax and it really works like that at United.”
Maybe that’s certainly why the Martinez love affair has ignited so rapidly, so passionately, right here in Manchester. As a result of, at their greatest, soccer golf equipment are at all times an uncanny reflection of the locations and the those that they symbolize.
The person from Gualeguay, Argentina may need realized his commerce over 6,000 miles from Manchester, however his underdog spirit, his grace underneath strain, his refusal to again down earlier than any opponent, his pure ambition, are 0161, by and thru.