Manchester United Football Club has a whole host of talented players on their books, with Jose Mourinho building a squad that’ll truly strike fear into opposing teams.
A large core of that team is English, particularly on the defensive side of the football. Mourinho loves to deploy a defence-first mindset in order to give his teams the best chance at winning football games.
One player who is finding his feet once again is Chris Smalling. The former Fulham man is back to his best following a slow start to the season, but that didn’t stop Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate leaving him out of the latest squad.
Ahead of United’s trip to FC Basel on Wednesday night, Smalling has admitted he was surprised to have been left out of the mix, while taking a jibe at Southgate in the process.
“Was I surprised [to be left out]?” he said to ManUtd.com. “Yes, I was. But you don’t play for one of the biggest clubs in the world for as long as I have, and probably won the most trophies, bar the Champions League, without being a top defender, who can play and defend.
“I think, this year, we’ve got one of the best defensive records and I’m very proud to be a part of that. While I’m playing under Jose, and I’m playing regularly, I’m happy with that.
“I play under one of the biggest, most successful managers in Jose, and he’s only going to pick the best players. So, while I’m playing regularly and he’s happy, and my season carries on like this, and we have a successful season and our team concedes very few goals – it maybe gives him no choice in the summer, but to pick me.”
At the end of the day, Southgate is nowhere near the finished article. For what it’s worth, I’m still surprised that he got the job as manager of England. We’ve seen him make some shocking tactical decisions, and now I’m left perplexed at his choice to leave Smalling out.
Alright, I may be a tad biased, but he’s been a reliable option for England over quite a number of years now. Defence has never been the problem for the Three Lions, and their struggles have often occurred when attacking. With that said, I’m pretty sure we’ll see him back involved soon.