Manchester United scraped into the final of the newly-renamed EFL Cup this evening, as they lost 2-1 to Hull City on the night but managed to squeeze through 3-2 on aggregate. Jose Mourinho’s men looked really lethargic on the evening, and that certainly won’t fill the boss with confidence.
Part of the problem was the defensive issues. It’s somewhat of a rarity when United concede two goals in a game under the self-proclaimed Special One, but when the manager made a few changes to the back four, it certainly didn’t help.
One of the players who came back into the team was England international Chris Smalling. The centre-half hasn’t featured all that regularly recently, due to the form of both Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones. The 27-year-old was handed a rare start, and it’s fair to say he had an absolute mare.
Positionally, Smalling was nothing short of awful throughout, and he allowed Hull City’s forwards far too much time and space on the ball. Last season under Van Gaal, he became a real mainstay in the side, but this year he has been a completely different player – and not for the better.
Twitter was awash with complaints about Manchester United’s centre-back after the match, and sadly, you feel the criticism is more than justified.
Check out the tweets aimed at Smalling here:
Think it's safe to say Chris Smalling won't be with United after next summer.
— United Religion (@Unitedology) January 26, 2017
Chris Smalling isn't good when you don't play negative LVG football & are protected by heaps of possession & a defensive style. Rubbish.
— Adam Joseph (@AdamJosephSport) January 26, 2017
Chris Smalling's work on the ball this season deserves to be accompanied by the Benny Hill music 😅😅
— James (@writtenoff_mufc) January 26, 2017
I want Mike Smalling back. Chris Smalling is dreadful.
— José (@MourinhoMindset) January 26, 2017
Chris smalling defending like the amateur he is
— Andy (@andycmanutd1) January 26, 2017
Chris Smalling should not last this summer. Awful player
— Kwabena (@Fhresh_matic) January 26, 2017
— DonnyDon (@a212m3) January 26, 2017
Chris Smalling has no business in the starting line up for now. Seems to be out of depth
— Doctor Awesome (@lekkyfun) January 26, 2017