Soccer

Manchester United’s resilience returns to show signs of the Alex Ferguson era, says Chris Smalling

Chris Smalling says the powers of recovery Manchester United have demonstrated in recent weeks reminds him of the attitude he encountered when Sir Alex Ferguson took him to Old Trafford eight years ago.

A dramatic late comeback against Newcastle United last month triggered an improved run of results that was maintained when Marcus Rashford’s added time winning goal secured a third win in four Premier League games at Bournemouth.

A poor first half display – Smalling admitted it was the worst of the season while manager Jose Mourinho said his side were fortunate not to be trailing by four goals or more at half-time – confirmed United are a long way short of their best and continue to look frail defensively. Smalling, the centre-back signed from Fulham in 2010, knows they cannot afford a repeat against Juventus in the Champions League group game this week, but saw grounds for optimism in the second half response.


Bournemouth vs Manchester United player ratings





1/22 Asmir Begovic – 6

2/22 Simon Francis – 6

3/22 Steve Cook – 7

4/22 Nathan Ake – 8

5/22 Adam Smith – 6

6/22 Junior Stanislas – 7

7/22 Lewis Cook – 6

8/22 Jefferson Lerma – 7

9/22 Ryan Fraser – 6

10/22 David Brooks – 7

11/22 Callum Wilson – 7

12/22 David De Gea – 6

13/22 Ashley Young – 6

14/22 Victor Lindelof – 5

15/22 Chris Smalling – 6

16/22 Luke Shaw – 6

17/22 Fred – 5

18/22 Nemanja Matic – 6

19/22 Paul Pogba – 7

20/22 Juan Mata – 6

21/22 Anthony Martial – 8

22/22 Alexis Sanchez – 7

1/22 Asmir Begovic – 6

2/22 Simon Francis – 6

3/22 Steve Cook – 7

4/22 Nathan Ake – 8

5/22 Adam Smith – 6

6/22 Junior Stanislas – 7

7/22 Lewis Cook – 6

8/22 Jefferson Lerma – 7

9/22 Ryan Fraser – 6

10/22 David Brooks – 7

11/22 Callum Wilson – 7

12/22 David De Gea – 6

13/22 Ashley Young – 6

14/22 Victor Lindelof – 5

15/22 Chris Smalling – 6

16/22 Luke Shaw – 6

17/22 Fred – 5

18/22 Nemanja Matic – 6

19/22 Paul Pogba – 7

20/22 Juan Mata – 6

21/22 Anthony Martial – 8

22/22 Alexis Sanchez – 7

“Yes, we’re showing that attitude – never giving in and you can see that coming out,” said the defender when asked if the recent comebacks were a reminder of his three seasons spent under Ferguson. “No matter how bad that first half was, that second half we all believed we can go and win. It’s a great feeling and it’s bringing us closer together.”

Smalling knows Mourinho’s side will have to draw on other qualities if they are to emerge successfully from a challenging week that ends with Sunday’s Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium, four days after the trip to Turin. However, Rashford’s assured late finish, coming after Anthony Martial’s 35th minute goal had cancelled out Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson’s 11th minute opener, means they will take a growing sense of momentum into the coming games.

“We know we’re going into a very tough week now but we have had some good results and October can be seen as a good month, considering it was probably one of our toughest months,” said Smalling. “Good results this week would galvanise us, knowing we’ve had some big games in October, gone toe-to-toe and picked up some good results. You can see after the international break we’ve got a lot of home games.”

A dip in results, however, will throw the focus back on to United’s failure to keep pace with the leading clubs this season. “It is not easy,” said Smalling, when asked about the criticism directed at the manager and players this season. “It is tough. Obviously the league is more competitive than ever, especially since when I joined. I think more teams are causing upsets and more teams are challenging and with that there comes more pressure. It is tough as players but we obviously love playing the game and playing for the club.

“This is a club that is talked about more than any other club and I think we as players need to stick together and ride out the tough times and stay together in the good and try to keep them flowing as much as we can.”

Acknowledging the club’s standing outside the top four hasn’t helped, the defender added: “The start of our season has put us in that position and we as players have to stand tall and the spotlight will be on us because we are supposed to be in the top four and we are not right now. We are doing everything we can to get there.”

Wilson’s goal was his sixth of the season and his all-round display strengthened his claims for a place in Gareth Southgate’s England squad. “I don’t really want to talk too much about it,” said the forward. “I don’t want to talk my way into the squad, I want to play my way in. I just want to focus on game by game and improve my game.”

Eddie Howe, the Bournemouth manager, believes his player is certainly in contention. “I’m sure Gareth and his team will be watching every player that’s English and doing well in the Premier League,” he said. “Callum would definitely come into that bracket. He’s a striker in form, confident at the moment and producing some good performances for us and that’s all he can do.”

Follow the Independent Sport on Instagram here, for all of the best images, videos and stories from around the sporting world.

Source: Read Full Article