Manchester United icon Gary Pallister believes that Chris Smalling has been the best defender in the Premier League this season.
Smalling has been in imperious form this term and he has played a huge part in Man United’s defensive solidarity over the course of the campaign.
The Englishman is receiving plaudits from a number of fans and pundits and there have even been calls for him to be the next captain of the club someday.
Pallister insisted Smalling has developed into a “proper” defender and that he has benefitted from a consistent run in the starting XI.
Asked who he would compare Smalling to, Pallister said: “I would probably liken Chris more to Brucey [Steve Bruce] and Nemanja [Vidic].
“He loves the defending side of the game, which is what we’ve needed from a centre-half, to just be aggressive, be tough, make the tackles and head the balls, dominate the penalty box – all the things that Brucey was and I wasn’t! And that’s what Chris is doing, coming up against these big lumps!
“He’s now a proper defender. He’s more confident, he’s enjoyed a good run in the team and he’s enjoyed the responsibility the manager has given him in making him captain on occasions.
“I think it’s mainly down to the fact that he’s been injury-free for a while; he’s played a number of games now in his preferred position of centre-back and we’re seeing the Chris Smalling we saw when he first came to the club. We’ve needed that solidity at the back and he has provided that. If you’re looking for consistency in judging the best player in the Premier League in his position so far this season, I think Chris ticks all the boxes. His performances have been exemplary.”
Smalling really has gone from strength to strength and there is no sign of him slowing down. The hope is that Phil Jones, currently working his way back to full fitness following injury, reaches Smalling’s level in the coming months at Old Trafford.