Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher has hailed Manchester United defender Chris Smalling for his solid performances this season.
The former Liverpool defender believes that Smalling has answered all the critics including himself who doubted Smalling’s abilities.
Smalling has been one of the consistent performers for Manchester United this term as he has started all the matches for the Old Trafford side in all competitions. Smalling was not the first choice defender during the pre-season tour but now after delivering numerous excellent performances he has become one of the few names to be first on the teamsheet.
Smalling has proven Carragher wrong
Smalling joined Manchester United from Fulham in 2010 and along with fellow teammate Phil Jones was considered as a long-term replacement for the pair of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand. Frequent injuries and being played at right back meant Smalling struggled for the Old Trafford side. He was slaughtered by both critics and fans when he collected a red card against Manchester City last year which ended in a defeat for United.
The England international has since then taken positive strides in becoming a top centre back and improved immensely. Smalling was rewarded for his consistent performances in the second half of last season by a new contract at Old Trafford in summer. In his Daily Mail column, Carragher admitted that “I once doubted whether Smalling could be United’s main defender, but he has proven me wrong.”
Smalling could be a future England captain
Louis van Gaal insisted earlier this season that Smalling is his new third captain after the departure of Darren Fletcher. The Dutchman also thinks that the defender can be a great captain for Red Devils in future.
Manchester United have recorded the most clean sheets this season in Premier League. Carragher believes that “Smalling is the reason they (Manchester United) keep so many clean sheets. He owns that defence."
"A future England captain?” Carragher asked. Smalling has been impressive on the club level and would be looking to emulate the same form for England and in this process nailing down a starting place ahead of next summer’s Euros in France.