Apart from his passing, what did Smalling actually do wrong? And are you against him coming back next season?

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The biggest problem I saw with Smalling was how weak he was on his left foot. I dont just mean his passing but his touch and technique with his left. It meant that smart opposition players would show him his left side when applying pressure and then wait for the error. He can pass and control with his left but not at the level where he isnt a liability there. He always needs one extra touch on his left to get set and at this level that extra touch is enough to force a wayward pass or slow down ball speed.
 

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Ole couldn't play him until Fernandes arrived because he only had one consistent creative player in Pogba and that meant he could either use him to connect defence to midfield or midfield to attack but not both. So he improvised and gave license to the center backs to bypass midfield and dribble into attacking areas, which was seen immediately by the likes of Lindelöf and Maguire sometimes ending up in the opposition box. Smalling obviously couldn't do this and Ole's insistence on learning to play out from the back meant he was never tenable.

Now that there is Bruno, which frees up Pogba to play deeper, as well as the resurgence of Matic, may be there is still room for Smalling as a squad player.
 

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And England have been no better defensively for it. Smalling didn't get exposed playing against top forwards like Kane when he played for us so what exactly would change?

Im not advocating to bring him back but the revisionism is a bit much. Both Maguire and Lindelof get exposed against top forwards and he is on par with them. We need to bring in a CB either better than Maguire of with high potential to be
You could argue Lingard, Cleverley etc are good enough to be in our first XI. With a proper run in the team like Fred and McTominay got this season, a much riled player can suddenly turn into an important cog in the wheel.

But the Jury will always be out because Fred will never be Keane, Lingard will never be Rooney. I don't doubt for a second that Lingard could be a huge success at West Ham or AC Milan if he moves. There's definitely a player in there. But will he offer enough goals and assists to cement his place in the Man Utd first XI, even if he's playing very well each week?

And I just think Smalling is one of those players. Of course he could partner Maguire and be decent next season. But I feel the jury will always be out that he's lacking that bit extra that a true Man Utd player has. I don't personnaly think he would offer more than Lindelof.
 

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the passing isn't the main issue for Ole, IMO

he's shit on the ball and not good when pressed, which is an issue if you want to play it out from the back regularly (passing is just one aspect of that)

that said, he's a solid defender and I'd have him as first choice back-up over everyone else currently.. he could complement Maguire quite well
 

e.cantona

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Was a reason Ole, and most on here, wanted him gone. Would be so strange to have him back again and expect more than before from him. Sell/get rid!
 

buckooo1978

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What is this new obsession with a left sided CB? Our best CB is Maguire, who has always played and is stronger on the left side.
He's naturally right footed (though he's more than useful on his left) and I know I've read he's stronger in challenges on his right side

Its not an obsession, just and observation and if Maguire is more comfortable there then but a right sided one
 

jeff_goldblum

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As a pure defender Smalling is probably the best we have on the books and his aerial strength, mobility and presence in the box were ideal for making up for De Gea's weaknesses in those departments. He did get away with murder with holding at set pieces though which he'd have to cut out sharpish with VAR about.

Ultimately though, to be a top centreback in an attacking team in an attacking league you need a level of ability on the ball which Smalling doesn't have. Still a good squad option to have though, but given that he's starting at a decent level in a more defensive league I wouldn't say it's in his interests to warm the bench here.
 

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Smalling has had an amazing season but I would rate him at Tom Cleverley/Mkhitaryan/Lingard/Welbeck level. A player who would thrive at West Ham or Everton, but not quite good enough for the first XI of Man Utd.

Southgate has picked Tyrone Mings, Lewis Dunk, Tarkowski, Michael Keane, Tomori, Gary Cahill, Joe Gomez, John Stones all ahead of Smalling.

I think if we bring back Smalling, I believe his performances would be on a par with what Lindelof offers. I think when we came up against world class forwards like Aguerro, Sadio Mane, Harry Kane..... I think Smalling would get exposed.
This is part-myth, part-guess, though. Smalling has repeatedly dominated all of these players in the past, albeit as part of a slightly different system, but it's not as if history suggests he caves in the face of world-class forwards.
 

NoMidfielders

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Awful at set pieces, constantly loses his man and compensates by pulling shirt/dragging them down. He's decent enough 1v1 but also often made errors defending low crosses into the box. Not to say that all of that doesn't also apply to Lindelof, but I think Smallings time out of the team has lead to some forgetting his flaws. Rather cash in and give minutes to a younger player or sign an upgrade.
 

Cassidy

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You could argue Lingard, Cleverley etc are good enough to be in our first XI. With a proper run in the team like Fred and McTominay got this season, a much riled player can suddenly turn into an important cog in the wheel.

But the Jury will always be out because Fred will never be Keane, Lingard will never be Rooney. I don't doubt for a second that Lingard could be a huge success at West Ham or AC Milan if he moves. There's definitely a player in there. But will he offer enough goals and assists to cement his place in the Man Utd first XI, even if he's playing very well each week?

And I just think Smalling is one of those players. Of course he could partner Maguire and be decent next season. But I feel the jury will always be out that he's lacking that bit extra that a true Man Utd player has. I don't personnaly think he would offer more than Lindelof.
No you couldn't, they are not as good as or better than Pogba or Matic.

Smalling is as good as Maguire and Lindelof
 

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This is part-myth, part-guess, though. Smalling has repeatedly dominated all of these players in the past, albeit as part of a slightly different system, but it's not as if history suggests he caves in the face of world-class forwards.
The biggest myth is that he's a rock solid defender. He's a very good defender with decent pace, but he has lapses in concentration far too often. Positionally he's not great either. We've never ever looked solid at the back in the 6 years he was playing since Fergie quit, no matter who he was paired with. Maguire has come in and looked a level above Smalling ever was despite a loss of form after the restart.

I like Smalling. I'm not against him coming back. I just don't think he'll offer more than Lindelof. It will be replacing like for like. And I believe the general feeling would be that he's not really up to it and just a stop-gap for a year, until we have funds again the following transfer window to sign a true Man Utd central defender.
 

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On one hand I'd be interested to see him and Maguire in the same team because Smalling would cover for Maguire's lack of pace whilst they're both pretty excellent in the air in both boxes. The issue with Smalling isn't just his passing, it's his first touch and how long he takes to get it out of his feet. If he was on the right side with AWB it would give the opposition a very pronouced weakness to prey on.
When you put it like that... fair point! That really wouldn't be pretty.
 

Hernandez - BFA

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I'd bring Smalling back if he wants. But if someone offers good money for him, it's worth selling.
If another center back had a season that he's had - he'd be £35million MINIMUM.

It's just typical that we can't sell anyone for shit. Some of our sales have been criminal when it comes to what transfer fee we receive.
 

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Defensively he is quite sound. But would you be comfortable with Smalling being our CB when we are playing out from the back?
 

jackal&hyde

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Decent defender but nothing special, how many penalties he conceded this season? His main problem is with the ball. Attackers that don't want to press and defenders that are not good on the ball have little place in a modern team that want's to play on the front foot most of the time.
 

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We seem obsessed with bringing the ball from the back right now even when it blatantly doesn’t work, so I think his passing is a pretty big deal. That said, I don’t remember him misplacing passes often. He keeps it pretty simple normally. He just looks very clumsy on the ball but I don’t know how much worse that is than Matic and Maguire who look like they’re completely in control of it until inevitably they’re not and lose the ball stupidly.

I really like him as a defender.
 
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Lennon7

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I think he'd arguably be our best centre back if he came back now. And guess what, his headers are on target.

Perhaps Maguire - Smalling would be a decent partnership
 

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Smalling never made the kind of mistakes Maguire and Lindelof regularly make...you could hardly dribble him and he certainly weren't going to bully him. On the ball he didn't looking pleasing but he wasn't giving away possession as some would have you believe.

Loved him and was truly displeased when he left.
 

youngrell

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I've said this before, but I think Smalling's ability on the ball (or lack of) is way overplayed.

I believe he looks far more clumsy than he is. Sure he's not Scholes but he rarely gives the ball away because he keeps it quite simple. Lindelof has a very good first touch and ball control, but he doesn't exactly play penetrating passes either so the difference in their quality in playing the ball forward is quite minimal, IMO.

Smalling is quite clearly a better defender than Lindelof in terms of strength, speed, aerial ability and probably tackling also. He's also a bit more proactive in shutting attackers down. So the positives outweigh the negatives for me when it comes to Mike.

I am not against selling him, because of the players we may lose he is one of the few who commands a decent fee, but I think it would be a mistake if we do not at least try him with Maguire in a game or two first.
 

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I just don't understand this constant revisionism of a player. Chris Smalling is good in the air and adequate defender. He's playing well in a slower team and system. Ole is set in playing out from the back, our current CB's Maguire and Lindelof are struggling with it. The press in the prem is so fast, you need to be good with your feet and passing it out. Lindelof and Maguire have a better passing range and better on the ball (far from what we need but better).
Smalling was targeted by our opposition in the past, they would target other players because they knew his distribution was not a threat. In the end, Smalling wants first team football and we shouldn't guarantee that. I'm fine with him for certain games as a squad player, he's not leading us to a title. Fair play to him though, least he tried a new path in his career not like Phil Jones.
 

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I'd like us to use a CB pairing of Maguire and Smalling next season. Lindelof plays a 'good' pass or dribbles once every 5-6 games and his 'ability' on the ball is by no means required with our way of playing
 

lysglimt

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He didn't anything wrong - but with the way we play football where the ball is supposed to be played out from the back - Smalling doesn't fit in. He is a brilliant defender - but he is a liability with the ball at his feet, and if he is put under pressure he will either pass the ball out to a throw in, or lose the ball to an opponent.

Good player - not right for us
 

Mr Smith

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The problem with saying "apart from x and y, what's wrong with him" is that you've already answered the question. His poor passing and manhandling in the box is exactly why we don't want him back. He'll be found out by VAR and his lack of ability on the ball will make it a nightmare when teams press us.

I really like Smalling, I think he's been a great servant for the club. But we've moved on. He doesn't fit with us now and even those of us that were his biggest fans need to accept that.
 

Nickelodeon

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If we don’t sign a CB, he must return. We can probably count on either Bailly or Tuanzebe to be injured at a given point in time. Smalling would represent the best possible cover our starting 2 while also being a competent option when we want to play a back 3. Unlike many other posters, I don’t rate him higher than Lindelof who still has a room to improve given he’s just turned 26.
 

MalcolmTucker

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He's arguably our best pure defender in the centre back position, but I'm sure those who are saying 'I swear he didn't give the ball away that much and I'd start him with Maguire' will be shouting at their TVs when he carries the ball to the half-way line, turns and passes it back to Maguire.

He isn't good enough on the ball and Ole obviously thinks so too, so it's a pointless discussion anyway.
 

Nikelesh Reddy

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As a pure defender, how many of you actually believe Smalling is inferior to anything we have at the club? Apart from his grabby hands and poorness on the ball, the guy is rarely beaten as an actual CB and he doesn't come with a lack of strength, pace, bravery, athleticism or any kind of weakness in the air.

I see he's lumped in with Jones very flippantly by some posters here which doesn't make sense.

This talk of us being cash-strapped whilst needing to pad out the squad (post-Sancho) and get in a supplementary CB for Maguire when we still have Smalling, who is not the worst partner for Maguire by any means, is quite weird. Why is there talk of spending north of £50m on a CB when we have Smalling?

With regard to his passing., traditionally the onus is on the anchoring midfielder to alleviate the issue and take over the play as soon as possible. In the world of the high press, this is not ideal, of course, but even then, if Maguire is this ball-playing CB some people think he is, he gets more chance to showcase it in a traditional stopper/ball-player pairing, which he and Smalling would be.

If Smalling wants out, fair enough. But if we have him and he wants to stay, who is against him being our starting CB next season, and if you are against it, can you state why?
If we can’t find an upgrade on Maguire/Lindelof,then I wouldn’t want us to waste any money on signing another central defender who wouldn’t really improve us as a team.I certainly wouldn’t mind Smalling rejoining the squad because I believe that he’s a very good defender.Apart from his poor ball distribution skills,he also had a tendency to make rash mistakes in big games and he also occasionally switched off during games,but all things said and done,he’s certainly good enough to be a part of our squad.

I want Ole to offload Rojo and Jones,and if we can’t sign a top CB,then I would definitely be in favour of bringing Smalling back to the club..
 

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Agree with you. I want Mike back.
When I see that City is buying Ake Im like....nah nah we have Smalling, hes better.
I do agree that perhaps buying a new CB isnt a necessity. If we bring Mike back, we are good.
Personally I prefer him to Lindeloff
 

matsdf

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I don't think I have been been more frustrated with a player, than I've been with Smalling. We are 1-0 down chasing an equalizer, just for Smalling to take the ball up to the halfway line and pass it back or out over the side line. I still have nightmares about this.

(Not downplaying his skills as a pure defender though)
 

nemanja15

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The biggest myth is that he's a rock solid defender. He's a very good defender with decent pace, but he has lapses in concentration far too often. Positionally he's not great either. We've never ever looked solid at the back in the 6 years he was playing since Fergie quit, no matter who he was paired with. Maguire has come in and looked a level above Smalling ever was despite a loss of form after the restart.

I like Smalling. I'm not against him coming back. I just don't think he'll offer more than Lindelof. It will be replacing like for like. And I believe the general feeling would be that he's not really up to it and just a stop-gap for a year, until we have funds again the following transfer window to sign a true Man Utd central defender.
Lindelof is quick, Maguire is not. Pace/acceleration is something our defence is crying out for... and as for saying we've never looked solid at the back, Smalling-Blind under LVG had a very good thing going for a couple of months, even accounting for the two DMs in front. He also had stints with Lindelof and Jones under Mourinho 2016-2018 (there was also the infamous winter 16/17 one with Jones-Rojo) where the team conceded very few goals over a period of weeks/months.

How is Smalling for Lindelof like-for-like? One can play football, one struggles with the ball. One is aerially dominant, one is not. One is physically imposing, one is not. One tends to go to ground, one stays on his feet. We can absolutely do with both in the same squad.
 

Buchan

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Southgate perpetuated a myth about his ‘ball-playing’ capabilities and it was reiterated so much by the media that folk now take it as gospel. It’s absolute nonsense. His best season here was under van Gaal and we played our best possession-based football in that period. I don’t recall anyone highlighting Smalling’s footballing limitations back then.

Nobody is claiming he is Beckenbauer Mk.II but he’s far from the clogger he’s made out to be either. I like Lindelof but his biggest defensive deficiency is the regularity in which he’s physically bossed by opposition centre-forwards, something which Smalling seldom suffered.

Smalling is definitely in the conversation for our second-best centre-back, IMO, and I’d have him back here no question.
 

davidmichael

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Pro’s:

Good pure defender, good in the air, does the basics well, good pace, pretty much always fit to play, lots of experience, has something to prove, played in international tournaments and Champions League.

Con’s:

Awful on the ball, lapses in concentration, quite grabby of opposition players, struggles when pressed, won’t improve on his current level.

I think he’s better than Bailly, Jones and Rojo so would be fourth choice if Tuanzebe was fit. We’d get more money for him if we sold him than Bailly, Jones or Rojo but then we’d also get a consistently fit and better centre back than those three if we keep him so it comes down to more money or a better squad option.
 

MadDogg

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Smalling has had an amazing season but I would rate him at Tom Cleverley/Mkhitaryan/Lingard/Welbeck level. A player who would thrive at West Ham or Everton, but not quite good enough for the first XI of Man Utd.

Southgate has picked Tyrone Mings, Lewis Dunk, Tarkowski, Michael Keane, Tomori, Gary Cahill, Joe Gomez, John Stones all ahead of Smalling.

I think if we bring back Smalling, I believe his performances would be on a par with what Lindelof offers. I think when we came up against world class forwards like Aguerro, Sadio Mane, Harry Kane..... I think Smalling would get exposed.
That's a strange criticism as he consistently dominated most top strikers. Aguerro was an exception but nobody else seems to handle him any better either. But Kane in particular was almost embarrassingly dominated by Smalling every time they met.
 

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Hesitant in possession. Not very press resistant. Made some mistakes; sometimes because he looked lazy; which is unforgivable (for me) given the wages they're on and matches are 90 minutes long with breaks (Marathons are at least 128 minutes long with no breaks). Not very good at all against players like Vardy.
 

Beachryan

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If he wants to come back and be 3rd/4th choice - great. Cheaper than finding an alternative.

But I'm really not sure the Italian league is a great barometer of Premier League suitability. Young and Sanchez also look pretty good there. I watch bits and pieces and it is significantly slower and less frenetic. Which would suit Smalling, as he was always at his worst when pressed and panicked.

He's getting a bit of the Hargreaves treatment - the longer we don't see him, the better he becomes.
 

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Bad positioning and decision making are his biggest flaws. Bigger than ball playing ability.
 

11101

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Passing is one part of on the ball ability, and he's not too bad at that. Far more of a problem is that he's not comfortable unless the ball is exactly where he wants it and he can't keep it moving in defence. It makes it very easy to press him and force an error or a rushed pass.

His biggest issue after his on the ball ability is his lack of game reading and positioning. He is excellent in a 1v1 situation, but he is poor when facing multiple attackers with movement between them. He frequently gets caught out when attackers make runs in behind him and doesn't communicate well when they move out of his area towards other defenders.
 

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The longer he's out of the club better he becomes. Defensively there isnt much compared to Lindelof and Maguire but despite errors I still feel more secure seeing them in defense then when Mike was at the club. Of course him partnering Jones and the like hasnt helped.
People bang on that current CB partnership wont win us PL. Well bringing Mike back wont either.
And other than passing. Passing is a huge issue and with him we couldn't build from the back like we do now cause when he receives the ball he treates it like a hot potato and that limites his play a lot.
I dont know what Ole's intentions are with CB situation. Bailly is crooked, Tuanzebe is out. Will we go for another CB or bring Mike as a backup?
What is he selling knock-off watches? :lol:

I take the point though, he gets better in our minds the less we see of him and does he make the first XI any better than it is now? The answer is no, not to any great extent, but I'd have him back in the squad as he's our third best CB, all things considered. I'm also in two minds about his on the ball ability, in that while I think just how disastrous he is on the ball and how poor he is at passing is overplayed it's his decision-making, getting it out from under his feet to make a pass etc. that takes too long and would not improve us under a high press. Actually I would take issue with your assertion that we are good at building from the back and Smalling would disrupt it, we're still pretty poor at it now but I take the point Smalling's presence would not improve that aspect of our game.

Maybe it's all academic anyway. He seems happy at Roma, they seem keen to sign him and we seem fairly keen to move onto another target and get a fee. I heard the reports that we'd try to get him back in if we fail to sign a replacement, which sounds fine to me, but I doubt Smalling would be very happy with that.