Every Manchester United fan was keen to see how Angel di Maria would fare on his debut, and on the whole they will surely have been encouraged by what they saw from their all-time most expensive signing.
Di Maria clearly was not fully fit—he started cramping after 65 minutes and was substituted soon after—but he showed a few flashes of his undoubted class before that.
The Argentine started his debut in United’s two-man central midfield alongside Darren Fletcher, with Tom Cleverley not even in the squad (it would seem his future might now lie elsewhere). Di Maria may be perceived as a winger, but he has long played a more central role for his club sides (both Real Madrid and, before that, Benfica), and he looked a comfortable and composed presence in what can be a difficult role to fill.
He impressed with his physicality and tactical awareness, but he also offered United more of a spark and a drive than we have typically seen in that area in the early part of the season. Defending diligently at all times, he nevertheless was at the heart of pretty much every incisive attacking effort United produced in the first half, either with his direct running or his astute long passes towards Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie.
He faded in the second half, as is perhaps understandable considering his busy summer and uncertain pre-season, but there was enough in this performance to feel confident Di Maria will improve United given time.