Chris Smalling seemed to have cemented his place in Manchester United’s backline last season, but under manager Jose Mourinho he has dropped down the pecking order.
The centre-back has started just seven Premier League games this season, and four of his outings have come off the bench.
Surprisingly, Marcos Rojo was brought in from the cold and has formed a partnership with Phil Jones.
At the moment, the pair seem to be Mourinho’s first-choice defensive pairing, but it is worth noting that Eric Bailly has been away at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Regardless, Smalling is struggling for game time, and his performance in Thursday night’s EFL Cup semi-final against Hull City did not breed much confidence.
United’s 17-game unbeaten run came to an end as the Tigers won 2-1 on the night, but Mourinho’s side progressed into the final 3-2 on aggregate thanks to their 2-0 first-leg win at Old Trafford.
After the match, some United fans took to Twitter to criticise Smalling’s performance.
Smalling found out (again) after struggling against Hulls 2nd string. Finished at United #mufc
— When The Seagulls (@whentheseaguIIs) January 26, 2017
— MR. BOLARINDE ISAAC (@isaacbolarinde) January 26, 2017
Past 3 games very worrying, playing as if it's October again. Smalling is just so terrible…. #MUFC
— MUFC (@20MUFC08) January 26, 2017
Darmian and Smalling are both terrible football players, both need shipping in the summer along with many others tbh #MUFC
— Jbizzle (@King__Koopa) January 26, 2017
One of our better players over the last couple of seasons has been Smalling but our defence has now looked shakey with him in it #mufc
— Kev Costello (@KevoC2) January 26, 2017
Darmian, Smalling, Lingard are not Man United quality…. #Mufc
— Christian Djazz (@Iamdjazz) January 26, 2017
Never thought I'd say this but legit prefer rojo CB than smalling ???? #mufc
— I LOVE THIS GAME (@Jose_un1t3d) January 26, 2017
Smalling and Jones don't work. Smalling is not good enough been evident for a while now .makes mistakes nonstop #mufc
— Thomas Nolan (@Scouserhater) January 26, 2017
Not liking this new Chris Smalling guy
Can we have Mike back please #mufc
— @ManUtd_HQ (@ManUtd_HQ) January 26, 2017
— Kay Akeredolu (@kayblow76) January 26, 2017
Smalling looks like the shadow of the player he was last season. Fix up man. #MUFC ????
— nathan????⚽???????????? (@FootyDevilsNews) January 26, 2017