However, against Manchester United at Old Trafford, you wouldn’t have known he was even on the pitch, with the inexperienced Chris Smalling ensuring he was out of the game.
“The players around me make it so much easier,” said Smalling. “They are always talking to me. When I had my first touch I just felt like one of the other lads who play regularly every week. I was talking to Rio on Friday and he was giving me little pointers. He has played with and against Carlos Tevez for many years and seen him in training every day for a couple of years so he was giving me little bits of advice on how to play him. He was making the point that Carlos likes to feel the defenders at his back. So you let him have his touch before you move in and go for him. It was great advice because he is a tricky player. It was a really good challenge for me. To have that knowledge to tap into is incredible. You get so much feedback with players you are playing with, players who are injured like Rio and the many coaches we have. It really puts me at ease and allows you to enjoy the occasion. I am on a high now. I want to finish the season strongly. I hope I can prove to the manager that I can play a part. I am feeling really confident at the moment.”