Adnan Januzaj was quick to pour cold water on rumours that he would be heading out on loan this season after scoring the only goal as Manchester United overcame Aston Villa at Villa Park.
Asked after the game about reports linking him with a temporary move to Sunderland the 20-year-old responded, “It was only rumours, I’m happy here and of course I’m going to fight for my place.”
Yet a temporary switch to another club where Januzaj could be guaranteed starts is exactly what the player needs to continue his development.
After all, prior to the Villa match he hadn’t started a Premier League game for the club since February.
In total, his first appearance of the 2015/16 campaign was just his eighth start since Louis van Gaal arrived at the Old Trafford and it only lasted 59 minutes, despite his goal, before he was replaced by Ander Herrera.
Before the game United manager Van Gaal had explained his decision to bring Januzaj into his XI at the expense of Ashley Young:
“I think he [Januzaj] showed in the preparation a lot of good things and I want to try him on his favourite position, number ten.”
Yet, for all he scored the winner, the Belgian’s effect on the game was not so great as to make him an automatic selection for United’s next outing.
The side as a whole remained far from fluent in an affair that was arduous going for the neutral.
Van Gaal spent much of last season methodically Rubick’s-cubing his squad in search of a harmonious way of operating, only occasionally finding equilibrium towards the end of the campaign.
The Red Devils’ performance against Villa shows his work is far from done in that respect, with predicting where, or if, Janusazj will fit into his plans impossible to predict as a result.