While the Reds have been in woeful form recently, Smalling and Lindelof’s performances together has made them manager Jose Mourinho’s first-choice pairing by a long distance.
Lindelof, in particular, impressed as Man United were beaten 1-0 by Juventus in the UEFA Champions League group stages at Old Trafford on Tuesday night.
The Swedish centre-back has made a point of praising Smalling, too, who he says has had an important role in the better performances of the pair.
“He’s [Smalling] a very good player,” Lindelof told the club’s official website, ManUtd.com.
“I think in the last couple of games, we’ve been playing okay with each other. We communicate a lot and speak to each other and cover each other’s backs.
“I think that’s why we’ve been doing okay in the past couple games.”
United’s defence remains far from good enough. Mourinho’s side have conceded 11 goals in their last seven fixtures, of which they have only won one of.
Lindelof has been progressing in that United defence, though, having struggled to settle properly at Old Trafford since joining from Benfica in Mourinho’s second summer in charge.
Smalling is a poor passer of the ball and his inability to distribute possession well has led to midfielders Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic having to drop back and their attacking contribution declining.
However, his pace is good and he is probably the most ‘solid’ of United’s defenders. That does speak volumes for the lack of quality in Mourinho’s central defence.
The main positive is that Lindelof and Smalling are now a pairing whereas before Mourinho had been constantly chopping and changing his back four.