Wales’ Daniel James suffered a knee to the head that appeared to knock him unconscious, yet was allowed to play on against Croatia.
“They need a midfielder, not another international class striker.” That was the refrain that dogged the first couple months of Robin van Persie’s time at Old Trafford as game after game went by in which Manchester United struggled to control proceedings.
Then, as the goals started flooding in at the wrong end, “and a defender” was added to the complaint.
Now though, United sit seven points clear at the top of the English Premier League standings and there is no question who has been the catalyst – van Persie.
The Dutchman is the top scorer in the English top flight with 16 goals and only team-mate Wayne Rooney and Chelsea’s Juan Mata have created more assists.
After another stellar performance in a 4-0 win over Wigan, Sir Alex Ferguson called van Persie, “the completely rounded footballer” in his explanation of why his focus in the summer transfer window was on snaring the Dutchman.
“We knew we were getting a top player who would make a difference to the team. That is why we went for him.
“Robin is a completely rounded footballer. He has great international experience, he’s played for Arsenal for seven years and he came to us at the very peak of his career.
“His ability to make and take goals is fantastic.”
Now Fergie’s focus can turn to finding the creative solution he needs in midfield and a defender who can stand alongside the increasingly frail Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.
Whether these players will be found internally or externally is a whole other issue.
Chris Smalling, Johnny Evans and Phil Johns have had as many good moments as bad ones, but have yet to show they can dominate their area at the highest level.
In midfield all hope currently rests on 23-year-old Tom Cleverley and Red Devils fans must look across to Turin with frustration, where United youth product Paul Pogba has set Serie A alight.
In the meantime the stats say it, the performances say it and the results say it. Robin van Persie has been a sensational signing who may have even covered up United’s flaws better than addressing them would have.