It’s hard to believe that Chris Smalling has been a Manchester United player for more than five years. He has always painted the picture of a player with potential, yet, time is running out on him to finally showcase his ability on a consistent basis. Any youngster coming into a team that boasts the likes of Patrice Evra, Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic has two options. One, you either get overwhelmed at the presence of these football ‘monsters’ or trying to learn from them and also attain the zenith of his career.
Joining from Fulham for an undisclosed fee in the January transfer window of 2010, he stayed on loan at the West London outfit till the end of the season after two years of meritorious service. The then 20 year old was gaining a burgeoning reputation as a player for the future, yet that potential has not been fully fulfilled. When Gary Neville retired at the end of the 2010/2011 season, Smalling was shunted to the right side of defence, playing intermittently with Rafael day Silva. He played well, but not remarkably spectacular as he had his sights on the centre of defence. A serious knee injury to Nemanja Vidic in 2012 meant Smalling played more under Sir Alex and there were signs of improvement.
Sir Alex retired in 2013, and by that time, the England international had established himself as a first choice player, and was expected to herald the start of something special following the departure of Rio Ferdinand and the sad decline of Nemanja Vidic. It has to be said, though, he did his best. By then, the decline at Manchester United was visible. Disastrous under Moyes and Van Gaal, Smalling emerged as some of the few players who could hold their heads held up. Then Jose Mourinho came into town. An injury in preseason meant Smalling wasn’t fit for the start of the season. United were on a roll, winning their first four games in aall competitions.
The derby defeat came, and Jose had to shuffle his team. The likes of Blind were shunted to the bench and a culmination of injuries meant he had his chance. He fumbled massively against the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and everything came to a head when Jose publicly accused him of shirking responsibility, a move which may lead to total destruction of his relationship with his manager. This is when Smalling has to fight his inner demons, and prove to his manager he deserves his place in the first team of the club.
Jose is ruthless, and if you are not man enough, you get shipped out. You have been warned, Smalling!!!!!