Manchester United defender Chris Smalling believes he still has more to offer over the course of the season.
The 25-year-old has been one of Man United’s standout performers this campaign, a huge turnaround from the start of last year. His central defensive partnership with Daley Blind has proved to be solid but he thinks he can still produce better.
Smalling captained the side for the trip to PSV Eindhoven and has become a mainstay in United’s back line.
His displays have earned him a starting place in the England set up as well but he is staying modest about his explosive start.
Speaking about his form, Smalling said: “Yeah I am happy that I have been able to play in every game so far and that is what my aim was at the beginning, especially after the disappointment of last season and the injuries that I had to start with.
“It has been nice to get a consistent run and I am enjoying my football at the minute. I would go with a seven out of 10 so far. There is definitely more to come. I am hoping that I can keep kicking on and improving each day, keep clocking up the games and contributing to the team.
A ‘seven out of 10’ is definitely an indication that the defender is harsh on himself and always strives for more. However, he agrees that he has improved under Louis van Gaal and is enjoying working under the manager.
He added: “We have obviously improved on the start of last season and, as a player, I definitely feel that I have improved as well. I think he is a manager that improves a lot of players. It’s pretty surreal but it’s nice that the manager has shown faith in me, and he has so much trust in me. It’s nice to be rewarded and I hope to reward him back with good performances on the pitch.”
The Englishman has come under a lot of slack from United fans in the past, with unconvincing performances, most notably a red card at the Etihad Stadium last season. Since then, he seems to have transformed into a different player.
Van Gaal chose not to buy a new central defender in the summer, and Smalling is beginning to justify his manager’s decision. With Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo and Paddy McNair now unavailable, United may have another defensive injury crisis on their hands. Smalling is the experienced player in the back four and will have his work cut out for him if he is to continue his tremendous start to the season.