"He's not making any rash decisions," the United manager said in the build-up to one of the season's most widely-anticipated games. "He was quite an impulsive young boy last season but he is the kind of thing we invest in and we are getting that return now."
Rafael's dismissal during the game at White Hart Lane following a second yellow card for tripping Benoit Assou-Ekotto may lead to a reassessment of those comments. But former Arsenal right-back and Match of the Day 2 pundit Lee Dixon believes the 20-year-old Brazilian is slowly maturing into a natural successor for Gary Neville.
"I thought we saw all sides of him on Sunday," Dixon said of Rafael. "As a right-back, his main job was to contain Tottenham's in-form winger Gareth Bale - and I think he did a good job, although he did show his naivety at times."