Silly Smalling Needs To Buck Up Ideas


Back in 2010 and 2011, Chris Smalling good do little wrong. His £12m transfer to Manchester United looked to be a bargain as he was composed both on the ball and in the tackle. His early United performances seen him called up for the England senior squad and he was capped in September 2011.

It seemed that Smalling was going to be a natural replacement for Rio Ferdinand and he’d be a huge part of United’s first team for  years to come.

Fast forward to the present day and things haven’t quite gone to plan with Smalling’s progress.

His sloppy, inconsistent performances were summed up this afternoon when he was sent-off for two ridiculously stupid yellow cards in the Manchester Derby.

For a professional footballer to get booked inside the first half hour due to obstructing the opposition goalkeeper from clearing the ball is just insane. As a centre-back Smalling should be doing his upmost  to getting back into position. Why on earth would you have shenanigans like that with the keeper so early, in such an important fixture?

That first card put the Englishman on a severe warning that he was walking a tightrope with most of the game still to play. That means you have to keep your discipline.

Man United’s manager Louis van Gaal had warned his stars that keeping their discipline would be key if his side were going to get anything from the fixture with Man City. In his pre-match press conference the coach said…

“We must not go down to 10 men,”

So you can just imagine what was going through the Dutchman’s head when he saw his centre-back lunge in on James Milner out in the far-side when he wasn’t really in a dangerous position. Smalling didn’t just make a mistake diving into the challenge he also went in with timing only Ryanair would be proud of (by that I mean he was never, ever getting there in time). That was Chris Smalling sent-off on the thirty-eighth minute of the game.

His teammates tried to recover something from the situation Smalling had put them in, with Michael Carrick returning from injury to settle into central defence with Marcos Rojo (who then had to limp off with an injury). But try as they might United couldn’t stop Sergio Aguero from netting the winner on the sixty-third minute.

Now Smalling’s sending off didn’t totally cost his team any points today, the forwards weren’t at their best either. But the defender’s actions certainly made it all the harder in such an important fixture.

The problem is that Smalling is fast becoming a weak-link at United.

He reminds me of a young Rio Ferdinand when he first joined Man Utd. He clearly had something about him but he needed to sort his head out. Experienced campaigner Laurent Blanc was brought in to look after Ferdinand. That bit of babysitting worked wonders for Ferdinand’s career.

Now Smalling no longer has that at Old Trafford. But he did have four seasons playing and training alongside Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic. So he has had plenty of time to grow as a footballer and should be well equipped by now.

The defender has had to shift from centre-back to right-back quite a few times over the past few seasons and that constant rotating can often stifle players development. But versatility is a huge part of modern day football and the quicker Smalling realises that the better.

Londoner Smalling also hasn’t adjusted well since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, to be fair that can be said for the entire football club. Last season under David Moyes, the player ended up in the front pages of the newspapers (more than once) and that’s rarely a good sign.

This term he’s had niggling injuries and various defensive partners, those aren’t the ingredients for playing success.

On the park, Smalling has become extremely inconsistent. He often looks too slow and seems to have many a mistake in him like today. His concentration levels aren’t up there either.

The end could be nigh for the twenty-four year old at Old Trafford unless he bucks up his ideas and starts delivering on his earlier Manchester United promise.

One Response to “Silly Smalling Needs To Buck Up Ideas”

  1. […] Giving him a chance against Scotland would be the very least Davies deserves, yet Hodgson opted for Chris Smalling who has looked far from assured for Manchester United this season. The 24-year-old compounded his […]

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