Have Man United finally found a long-term leader in defence?

Manchester United’s back line has been named as their weak link for the season. The defence is just as important as the strike force, and United’s has been somewhat make shift all season.

Injuries, bans, you name it, it has hit United’s defence. But one player has made a significant turn around in the second half of the season. And it is no surprise that he has been awarded a new long term contract.

Chris Smalling’s improvement in the last few months has been fantastic. Since the sending off in the Manchester Derby at the Etihad, he has played a major part in Manchester United’s starting line ups. And rightly so. The second yellow at the Etihad was a stupid mistake – we all knew it – but Smalling has barely put a foot wrong since.

His turn around, and learning from his mistakes earlier on in the year is clearly why Louis Van Gaal has chosen to keep Chris Smalling at Old Trafford. Good quality defenders are hard to come by, but Smalling is getting there.

Since Jonny Evans was banned due to the spitting incident at St James’ Park, the whole side has been better. But defensively, Smalling and Jones have been the players fans have wanted them to be and more.

After losing such key players, and solid defenders in the likes of Vidic and Evra, Manchester United fans have probably expected too much from their defence. One thing they are lacking in their back line is a leader. This could be Chris Smalling if he continues to improve.

The ongoing rumours of Mats Hummels impending arrival at Old Trafford should not be cause for concern for Chris Smalling. Hummels will be an important addition to the squad – should the transfer go through – but it will not be Smalling he pushes out.

And those four goals he has racked up this year aren’t too bad either.HThe best is still yet to come from Chris Smalling and he has plenty of time now to prove himself.