Manchester United fans were far from impressed with Chris Smalling‘s display during their side’s 0-0 draw with Southampton in the Premier League.
And, on a night where Jose Mourinho would continue to see who, out of the Smalling and Jones, accompanies Daley Blind in the Europa League final, the 27-year-old did himself no favours with what was another performance laced with uncertainty.
Supporters were quick to once again jump on the defender’s back following an unconvincing display.
I find it amazing how quickly Smalling has gone from being "Captain Mike" under LVG to people wanting Tuanzebe starting EL final.
— Tom Coast (@thcoast) May 17, 2017
Not a great sign for Smalling that Tuanzebe already looks more experienced and accomplished.
— JOE (@JOE_co_uk) May 17, 2017
Chris Smalling is a pie
— Nooruddean (@BeardedGenius) May 17, 2017
Solid effort again by Tuanzebe already looks light years ahead of smalling
— Pete Evans 👹 (@pete689908) May 17, 2017
There was once a time when Smalling boldly stuck out amid the uncertainty engendered by Louis van Gaal. His looming, dictatorial presence at the back last season was noticeable from a distance; he was the focal point, the de facto captain of this United side, gesticulating wildly and tearing across the turf.
Fast forward a year later and the difference could not be more poignant: the 27-year-old has lost that intangible aura reliable defenders have; the only time I notice Smalling these days, in fact, is when he sends the side into panic mode with a misplaced pass or poorly timed challenge.
The sad thing to come out of all of this is that, actually, Smalling is a solid defender – an England international who helped his side to an impressive defensive record last year. But unless he can re-ignite that assurance in his game very quickly, one suspects his days at Old Trafford are numbered.