As Manchester United fans delighted in an exuberant attacking display against Queens Park Rangers inspired by Angel Di Maria they would have been equally happy to watch an outstanding debut performance by Daley Blind.
The versatile Dutchman played a disciplined midfield holding role, protecting his defenders and seamlessly controlling possession with clever movement and a stream of accurate short passes.
Blind’s industry and calming influence provided a solid platform from which to unleash the flair of Di Maria, Juan Mata and Wayne Rooney as United powered to an emphatic 4-0 win in the autumn sunshine at Old Trafford.
“He is a player who can see situations in advance,” United manager Louis van Gaal told Manchester United television.
“He can always pass to the free player and when he doesn’t have the ball, he knows when he has to press the opponent. That’s a very good ability to have.
“I like him as a defensive midfielder, but he can also play in central defence or at left full back. He can run for 90 minutes too and is always fit. That’s another very good quality for a player.”
QPR were, admittedly, weak opposition and far tougher tests lie ahead but Van Gaal was a happy man after overseeing his team’s first win of the season.
“When you have a result of 4-0, then you can be happy as a coach, but you always have points you can improve,” he told reporters.
“We have always to analyse what we have done. The result is fantastic but we can get much better.
“I said ‘let’s make a new start today’.”
It certainly felt like a new start after months of misery for United who enjoyed a trophy-laden 20-year spell under Alex Ferguson’s management before last season’s dismal seventh-place finish with David Moyes at the helm.
Di Maria opened the scoring with a free kick from out wide, Rooney teed up Ander Herrera for his first United goal and the England forward’s crisp shot put United 3-0 up at halftime.
Mata added a fourth before Old Trafford rose to acclaim the introduction of substitute Radamel Falcao for another much- anticipated debut.
The Colombian striker showed his predatory instincts when he latched on to a rebound after Blind’s powerful shot was parried by Rob Green but his effort was well saved by the goalkeeper.
“My teams are always focused on attack, but it is not our focus – that is to be in the first three,” Van Gaal said.
“The most important thing is the trajectory.”
After the misery of Moyes’s reign, United fans will relish their manager’s confidence.
The victory over QPR lifted United into the top half of the table after four matches and the next two games are away to Leicester City and home to West Ham United.
If Van Gaal can maintain his team’s upward trajectory, they will be in good shape for the much harder challenges that lie ahead.