Chris Smalling’s talks about a new contract with Manchester United have been put on hold until the end of the season with it uncertain as to whether the defender will still be a United player next season.
The defender is keen to stay at Old Trafford and he is enjoying life at the Red Devils with Louis van Gaal. He has made 22 appearances this season for the club and after a slow start which saw him put in some bad performances, he has greatly improved his game. After getting sent off in November against Manchester City many fans would have been happy not to have seen him play again but now he is quickly becoming a more dependable defender. After receiving two extremely careless yellows it looked like he would be left on the bench for the rest of the season and out of the door this summer. So all being considered – should he stay at Manchester United next season?
United’s defence has been one of their biggest problems this season with van Gaal not being completely sure of what his strongest back four is. The back four has chopped and changed all year and earlier in the season Smalling was someway behind Jonny Evans and Phil Jones in the pecking order but it seems his current form has brought him to the front with van Gaal picking him to start for the last five matches in a row and Roy Hodgson calling him up to play for England.
In September Smalling suffered from being played out of position similar to how he finished last season but he has come to be fairly reliable (okay he has had the occasional off day, but everybody does its natural). When you look at this season’s statistics against some of the Premier League’s other defenders- John Terry, Gary Cahill and Kurt Zouma all have worst statistics than Smalling. He passes forward more, makes more interceptions and scores more goals but his weakness lies in winning headers.
There might be a solution to this. Mats Hummels has been linked with joining Man United’s defence over the summer and with eight defenders already on the books someone with surely have to go. They could make it easy and move Smalling on seeing as his contract is already up but it means the defenders will need to show van Gaal what they are made of for the rest of the season.
Smalling plays better against a traditional centre back and with Hummels being known for being dominate in the defence it could be the perfect partnership. Smalling has greatly improved as the season has gone on- he has come into his best just when it matters.
After looking at all that it seems like Chris Smalling is growing to really fit in to United’s back four and as he wants to stay at Old Trafford I think van Gaal should get his contract written up before the likes of Arsenal come and snap him up.