When Manchester United announced their first starting XI under the temporary stewardship of Ryan Giggs, Juan Mata would have been forgiven for wondering if he was paying for being a David Moyes’ signing.
After all, the Spaniard was only on the bench while Moyes’ other big-money arrival – Marouane Fellaini – was out of the squad altogether.
And yet by the time the final whistle blew on Saturday, it was clear Mata was as important to United as ever.
Two goals in a 30-minute cameo did not tell the whole story. The club-record signing also changed the pace of the game when he arrived as a second-half substitute for Danny Welbeck. Suddenly United were playing with more gusto, and Mata was at the heart of it.
So talk of his United demise just because he happened to be bought by a man no longer there is premature in the extreme.
Every Monday Mata gives us an insight into his world via his blog entries, but today is even more special as it is the Spanish international’s birthday.
But that special day was only mentioned at the end of another eloquent but sad entry, as the play-maker reflected on the passing of former Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova.
“He was an example of humility and here I send all my support to his family and friends. May he rest in peace,” Mata wrote.
He also spoke of his now former manager Moyes, wishing him well and thinking him for his part in bringing the ex-Chelsea player to Old Trafford, and reflected on a good start for temporary boss Giggs.
But those fans eager to see what Mata can do in the future will be excited by his comments regarding his attitude to the game right now.
“The season goes on, although just for three more games, which makes me kind of sad because I’m feeling really good and I would love this Premiership to last a few more weeks,” he added.
It is that passion for football and excitement at playing for United that suggests his new fans have only seen a glimpse of what the £37.1million man may be set to deliver in the future.