If you were told 12 months ago that Chris Smalling was going to sign a new four year deal with Manchester United the following season, there’d have been some justified confusion as to whether he warranted it.
Fast forward a year and the reaction to Smalling’s new deal is the polar opposite because out of all the defenders whose contracts were close to expiring, he deserved a new one the most.
After the shockingly poor red card away to Manchester City, Smalling has been a rock in the heart of Man United’s defence and played a major role in their great run of form, not least with his goals.
Smalling is a player who has polarised the fan base at times during his United career but there was a voice of content when the news broke about his new deal being agreed:
@PeoplesPerson_ Wouldn't have batted an eyelid before xmas – but now our most consistent defender. Could benefit from hummels' experience
— Joe (@yungjozy) April 21, 2015
@PeoplesPerson_ A good step by both the player & the club. Our most impressive defender this season except for the red card at etihad
— Rahul (@therealbaghira) April 21, 2015
— Charlie (@footballgirl732) April 21, 2015
Like Marouane Fellaini and Ashley Young, Smalling’s resurgence under van Gaal has been extremely promising and heading into next season, there is fresh hope he could have a role to play in United’s future defence.