Nemanja Matic has expressed his enthusiasm following a successful first appearance in a Manchester United shirt during a 2-1 win over Sampdoria in Dublin.
The 29-year-old only completed his switch to Man United on Monday, signing for £40m, and took part in his first training session the day after, but was in from the start against the Italian side.
And in spite of not playing any pre-season games this summer, the Serbian looked right at home at the base of midfield, comfortably sweeping up the ball and shifting play, ensuring nothing got past him in a half that United dominated.
Speaking after the game, Matic was quick to express his delight at what was an encouraging opening display.
A crucial aspect to Matic’s game, and something I always envied during his time at Chelsea, is the way in which he can appear to cover twice as much space from a standing position than anybody else when moving for the ball.
Where others find themselves bypassed by a swift turn from the opponent, the Serbian – in that uniquely unperturbed, militant way of his – just calmly sticks one huge leg out and sweeps the ball away before moving it along.
The key word here, I think, is presence. United’s midfield and, by extension, their entire set-up felt emboldened by the 29-year-old’s presence, and supporters will be desperate to see it continue.