Van Gaal made the mistake of calling Smalling “Mike” during the pre-season tour of the United States this summer.
Smalling produced a fantastic display at Old Trafford against CSKA and his crucial goal-line block after David de Gea had kept out Seydou Doumbia’s effort was a huge turning point in the tie.
However, it seems as if van Gaal is still struggling to remember the defender’s name, saying: “David de Gea saved us and after that Michael Smalling has saved us.”
— . (@kamikazemufc) November 3, 2015
Smalling has found it difficult to shake off his new name and it is likely van Gaal’s light-hearted comments will do little to help his cause.
The defender really is going from strength to strength this season and his performance against CSKA underlined how much of a revelation he has been. The turnaround since his red card against Manchester City last year has been remarkable.