Manchester United legend Nemanja Vidic, who won it all with the club alongside Rio Ferdinand in the last decade, recently expressed his views on Chris Smalling, who has been a rock at the back for United this season. The Serbian said, ” I’ve always loved Chris. I love him because he’s a defender. His mentality is that he likes to defend”. Ofcourse, Vidic, with all his pedigree and experience knows a good player when he sees one, and here is why I completely agree with our Terminator:
1. Smalling reads the game well
The Englishman has brilliant game reading skills, which helps him to take up correct positions and prevent the opposition from catching him on the wrong side. This ability in him is new, and has probably been nurtured in him by his partner Daley Blind, who despite being small in size, has managed to get the better of the likes of Sergio Aguero, Olivier Giroud and Romelu Lukaku in the last few weeks thanks to his impeccable positioning sense.
2. He is a no-nonsense defender
When it comes to taking chances, Smalling doesn’t. He knows that United’s forward line don’t really score as many as they used to, so he keeps the fancy tricks and risky passes out of his game completely. This season, more than ever, he has been pretty mature in his gameplay, and made a number of last ditch tackles and clever fouls which has helped United escape the game with all 3 points.
3. He is good on the ball
Just because he doesn’t take risks doesn’t mean he isn’t good on the ball, Smalling often makes those foraying runs into midfield and most importantly, he rarely loses the ball on such runs. Having a defender who is comfortable in possession is always an asset for any team.
However, there are areas he still can improve on. “I believe he can still improve but he is physically strong and, as I said, he likes to defend which, for me, is very important. You don’t see many players nowadays who like to defend, there are not many in the world. That’s his big ability”, says Vidic, who mentored the player when he joined the Old Trafford outfit from Fulham as a 20 year old in 2010.
Having just completed 200 appearances for the club last Gameweek against Aston Villa, we hope Smalling goes on to reach the levels of his mentor and also, guide the academy youngsters, like Tim Fosu-Mensah, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Joe Riley, Donald Love, Regan Poole, Guillermo Varela, and Ro-Shaun Williams to reach those heights.