Darron Gibson says he is a happier man since leaving Manchester United as he prepares to return to his former club this weekend.
Gibson went straight into David Moyes' side following his January switch from Old Trafford and has since made 12 starts, a figure which would undoubtedly be greater but for a six-match lay-off with a knee problem.
Such significant involvement in first-team affairs is a far cry from his time down the M62, where he felt shackled to his reputation as a bit-part performer.
“As a footballer you want to play and when it came down to it, I wasn’t playing as much as I would have liked," said the midfielder. "That meant I had to move. Some people would say I failed at United and towards the end, I wasn’t playing my best.
“So I’ve come here to start showing people how good a player I am. I wouldn’t say I failed, I’d say I never got the chance I wanted.”
After making his debut for the Red Devils in October 2005, Gibson went on to make just 60 appearances in six seasons at Old Trafford.
And while his infrequent opportunities incorporated two League Cup finals and a handful of run-outs in the latter stages of the Champions League, Gibson has no regrets about giving up Old Trafford for a shot at regular action with Everton.
'Not really' was his reaction when asked if he missed his former club, Everton’s Premier League hosts this coming Sunday.
Instead, he is relishing his new-found importance on Merseyside and admits it was even nice to be dropped for last week's 4-0 thrashing of Sunderland for the right reasons.
“I’d expected to play (against Sunderland) to be honest," said the 24-year-old, rested with the Blues’ Wembley contest against Liverpool in mind. “It was nice to know that I was being held over for the big game, the complete opposite of how it was at United.
“It is nice to know you’re in with a more-than-likely chance of playing every week, rather than not. I am just enjoying it and I’m in a better mood now, I know that.
“It’s surprised me how well it’s gone because I wasn’t sure. This was the first club I have moved to — I was at United since I was 15.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect but I’m really enjoying my football. It is a great club.”
As for his new manager, Gibson understands comparisons with his former boss Sir Alex Ferguson, but says in reality they each have their own unique approach.
Sir Alex has his infamous dressing room 'hairdryer treatment', while Moyes starts his bellowing on the training pitch – a lesson the Republic of Ireland international was quick to learn on reporting for duty at Finch Farm.
He said: "The only real similarity is they are both Scottish and sound the same - and you wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of either of them!
“He [Moyes] has shouted at me a few times to run a bit harder in training.
“Sometimes I do need a kick up the backside. It is just the way I am. I’m not saying I don’t work hard but when he shouts ‘run faster', I run faster.
“He hasn’t personally been on my case but has certainly had a few words about how he wants me to play. The football here is a lot different than it was at United.
“I was shocked at how hard we worked and it took me a few games to get used to it. But I think I have settled in well and, as I say, I'm enjoying it here.”