With Anthony Martial recently making a fantastic debut against Liverpool FC, we look at three Manchester United players who also made their debuts against arch-rivals and went on to become household names at Old Trafford.
United shocked the footballing world when they paid a record 36m GBP for a teenager to sign Monaco forward Anthony Martial. The youngster, who has only recently made his debut for France, came on to make his debut against arch rival Liverpool FC.
Martial had an immediate impact, picking the ball up on the left-hand side of the United attack and running at Skrtel before embarrassing him and coolly slotting the ball in Mignolet’s left-hand corner to score and put the game to bed.
With Martial making his debut against arch-rivals Liverpool FC and acquiring an instant hero status, we look at three other players who wore the Red shirt for the first time against their rivals and went on to become household names at Old Trafford.
1. Eric Cantona
Leeds United were the champions in the 1991-92 season. However, they decided to sell their talisman Eric Cantona to rivals Manchester United in 1992-93 season, and in the process, gave the keys to the league title to the Manchester outfit.
Cantona made the move to United in November, before making his debut against Manchester City on the 6th of Decemeber 1992. While Cantona did not score in the game as United ran out 2-1 winners, his all-action display was praised by teammate Mark Hughes. Hughes said, “There was one moment early in the second half when he suddenly got clear down the right to knock in a great cross. I thought, ‘the fellow can certainly play a bit’, and if he carries on like that, Ia ll score more than I miss.”
And Cantona could certainly play a ‘bit’ as he showed in the coming years, proving to be the single most important factor on the pitch as United won their way to title after title under Sir Alex Ferguson to become one of the greatest players, if not the greatest, to wear the famous Reds shirt of United.
2 – Dimitar Berbatov
Berbatov’s reputation had grown steadily till the 2008-09 season when Manchester United came calling for the Bulgarian attacker. Renowned for his silky touch and ability to produce some fantastic goals, Berbatov found it difficult initially at Old Trafford before becoming a firm fan-favourite following an incredible hat-trick against Liverpool later in his career.
It all began against the same side, when after completing his move towards the end of the summer transfer window in the 2008-09 season. Manchester United were beaten 2-1 on the day at Anfield, but Berbatov left his mark with an assist within three minutes of his debut for Carlos Tevez. Better days were to come both for United and for the Bulgarian
3 – Patrice Evra
Patrice Evra reached three Champions League finals with United, winning one and losing the other, besides winning numerous league titles during his spell between 2006 to 2014. He finally moved on to Juventus for the 2014-15 season and won the Serie A and lost in the final to Barcelona, again.
Had someone suggested that the player would have hit the heights he went on to after his torrid debut against Manchester City on 14th January 2006, he would have been labelled rather stupid to think so. United lost 3-1 to City on the day and Evra was awful to say the least. The defender, rather honestly, went on to acknowledge his poor performance, “I made my debut against Manchester City and it was really difficult. After the first 45 minutes, the manager took me off, told me to sit down, watch English football and learn.”
Evra learned, and how! Bouncing back with flying colours, the defender became a key player in the Sir Alex Ferguson’s side, ousting the Argentine Gabriel Heinze who went on to sign for Real Madrid.