Discussion in 'Manchester United Forum' started by Reiver, Mar 3, 2019.
Still relatively wrong.
Yes he will start. Walk straight into Arsenal, he is better than Otamendi, most probably into Spurs, deffo into Chelsea. one of the better limited CB's in the league. Just awful at distribution, takes too long to decide who to pass to and goes for the simplest option (Lindelof).
And if both Tottenham defenders are better than Smalling, then they should always be conceding less goals than a defence that has Smalling and and an even more inferior defender, right?
Agree with all this
Smalling's problem is consistency. True, he can be error prone and can be a liability at set pieces, but he's not a bad defender at all.
pretty good analysis. bravo
But you skipped over where I acknowledge that defensive record is not solely due to an individual player's quality. But looking at the numbers, Tottenham conceded 36 goals last season. That's not significantly more than 28 that we conceded. I think the way we played under Mourinho contributed to the delta. Plus, I think Toby and Jan (can't spell their last names) rank higher than Smalling in all categories except 1-on-1 marking. Hence my categorization.
I must again reiterate that I think Smalling is a very good defender, and is suitable for United and our style of play.
Well in the games I watch he does get caught out of position a lot and will leave a big gap
He was immaculate vs PSG away and I wish he was more consistent
Tell you what, he's made a few passes in the last 3 games which prompted me to do a double if not a triple take. Under pressure as well.
For the life of me he cannot when he has all the time in the world but when he's being rushed, he can add zip and precision to them. Wtf.
If you acknowledge that defensive record is not solely due to an individual player's quality, then why bring it into an argument that is strictly about individual quality?
Tottenham has conceded 32 goals this season, and we have conceded 40. Last season it was 36 and 28 respectively. There is 8 goals between both sides in both seasons, if you think Tottenham didn't concede significantly more than us last season, then you can surely say the same for us this season? Our defence is actually getting better and better since Mourinho left too. We conceded 29 goals in 17 under Mou, it has improved to 11 in 13 under Ole, so we'd probably have conceded even less than Spurs this season if we didn't have Mourinho. Anyway better to ignore teams' defensive record.
What are those categories that Jan and Toby rank more than Chris btw?
He's our most consistent CB with ease.
He's had 1 under par season out of the past 6 seasons and that was 16/17 where he didnt play as often as the rest.
Every other of those seasons he's been good or very good
Perhaps you dont understand his position
I agree, Alderweureld hasn't performed like a top defender this season but he's still the one a lot of United fans think is the answer to all our problems at the back. Spurs have conceded quite a few soft and late goals this season.
Smalling seldom gets caught out of possession as others have stated. He plays it safe. Can you please point out the times he's been dispossessed at the cost of the team conceding a few of the 'many' goals you speak of? Which goals? You're repeating things that others have said that are not factual.
This season we've been leaky under Mourinho and its because he stripped the players of confidence. Look at the times he played McTominay, Herrera and Matic at the back, twice even leaving Bailly on the bench, just to make a point. He sabotaged us. This season will be the only one in the post Fergie era bar the Moyes season where United will finish outside the top three meanest defenses in the league.
Its mostly been between United and Spurs in the top 2 during the aforementioned time. Otamendi and Stones are soft players who'd be exposed if they played for United, Spurs or mostly a team like Arsenal. City don't even have an established regular central defensive pairing. Its shaping up to be Laporte and Stones going forward, but Guardiola plays who he sees fit going by the opponents. The most impressive stats the city centerbacks share is passing completion, all in the lower 90s percent wise, and interceptions.
The City CBs are not so impressive when it comes to duels, blocks and challenges which Smalling even this season has statistically been better at (Smalling has more blocks per game than all of them). They even get dribbled past more often than Smalling. Kompany was vital to City at one point more so than any single other CB at that club is now. The others haven't even improved since they joined the team. Is Otamendi world class? Has Stones developed much and is he considerably better than he was at Everton? Is he generally considered as one of the best defenders in the league? The way city play protects those softards a lot, the same way Smalling critics claim LVG's possession obsession protected Smalling and Blind when they formed the best pairing we've seen since the Fergie days (in actual fact Smalling was very aggressive and proactive that season). Fernandino is more important than any single City CB in their system and that says a lot.
Well when an opposition striker is through on goal while Smalling is on the floor outside the box, I think he’s out of position
You’d be ridiculous to try claiming Smalling is near the level of Rio, Stam, Vidic. And imo his positioning is a big reason. When that’s right, it all clicks for him. I even think his distribution has improved under Solskjaer
Out of position I meant
He slipped and still dealt with the threat. One situation where he slipped - which seldom happens - is definitely not a good example to show he is constantly out of position, unless he is slipping every game.
The bolded below:
@adexkola also, Smalling has been statistically better than Alerweireld this season, and pretty much on par with Vertonghen even in a season where United have been mostly a shambles at the back. Smalling's stats have been boosted since Ole came in, so has Lindelof's while Spurs backline has been leaky when it matters the most, conceding late goals lately and dropping points. Imagine if they started the season like we're seeing now.
Any examples of what you're saying? Sounds like you're talking about Jones in all honesty, he hits the deck at every chance. Back up your assertions with examples.
If you ever watch a game with me, I can point it out.
Otherwise I think you’re just asking something you know I can’t prove unless I go back and watch matches, and film them for you, which I don’t want to do
So he's a liability from set pieces and at fault for too many goals.
I'm amazed that people can just say these things when they clearly just aren't true.
Arsenal last game. Smalling slipped while keeping track of Aubameyang who was played through on goal by Kolasinac. Smalling beat him for pace and recovered about 2-3 metres to stall the threat.
I think he’s taking one moment thatnhappened recently and using it to shape his reality of something. Smalling did recently go out to challenge for a ball and he won the header but coming down he slipped and unfortunately the ball broke in to a position he would have been occupying if he hadn’t gone to win the ball.
However Smalling had won the ball countless times doing the same thing. Might have been against PSG or Arsenal but what that person is saying is a load of rubbish.
I kind of disagree, but I'll give you this one, because Mourinho did have some effect.
I don't know what you mean by "soft". I watch them a good bit, and they don't shy from challenges or hide from the pass. They're both aggressive in all phases of play, which actually burnt City in Pep's first season. They've improved considerably so since then, and I think that's the part that everyone missed. I bolded interceptions because that is a key part of defending in City's system: intercepting the pass to the opposing winger hanging at the back of the CB or FB. You can't be poor at that and play in City's high line without conceding a feckton of goals.
When all are fit, City's established pairing is Laporte and Stones. Injuries have disrupted that a bit, plus Pep's love for rotation. Their appearances reflect the fact that Laporte is City's best keeper, with Stones not far behind.
But I agree that Smalling is better than them at 1-on-1 challenges, and is more physically dominating. We are in agreement here.
False. I refer you to City's first season under Pep, versus last season or this season.
Answering your questions one by one:
Otamendi is not world class. He is a very good defender. Very good at defending set pieces. Excellent at breaking the lines and finding a De Bruyne or Silva. A bit rash.
Stones has developed much from his Everton days and his first season under Pep. Very good at defending set pieces and the long ball. Almost WC in possession and position. Not as good as Laporte in breaking the lines with his passing, but everything else from a ball perspective he is excellent. Overall he is not world class. Has the potential to get there. He (Stones) was selected by Southgate to go to the World Cup. He starts for the best side in the league. I think that's enough to generally be considered as one of the best defenders in the league.
To the contrary, City's system cannot accommodate an average defender without getting burnt on the counter, and when they don't have the ball. It is a system that requires a lot out of the personnel at the back, because they don't have 2 banks of players to hide behind... a mistake almost always results in a goal. The same way we don't rate Pickford ahead of DDG because the former makes a lot of saves... it is more difficult playing at the top where you can do nothing for 30 mins and then be asked to pull off a save. Kind of the same with defenders in a possession based system.
Fernandinho is fundamental to City's system, no question there. That does not negate or diminish the contribution of their defenders.
If anyone thinks he wouldn’t start ahead of clowns like Luiz and Mustafi, then feck me.
Thats a cop out, surely if it happens as many times as you say it does it wouldn't be hard to come up with even 2-3 examples. There has to be a few incidents that stick in memory. The answer is it hasn't happened this season. We've conceded more goals to Bailly and Jones rashness and own goals this season.
Look at Jones' own goals against Spurs and Valencia (two games we lost), and him hitting the deck and fumbling all over to gift Chelsea a pen in the FA cup last season, to him gifting Derby in the 2-2 draw and penalty kick loss in the league cup, to his overall shocking performance when we drew 2-2 with Burnley which included a hospital pass to Pereira who got dispossessed as he was surrounded by Burnley players, leading to them scoring. Surely you can come up with a Smalling incident or two that cost us in the manner you're saying this season
Are you using Whoscored? A direct comparison for this season that I did, shows Smalling to be ahead of Jan and behind Toby (marginally in both)
I would say interceptions, clearances and aerial duels won are fitting statistics for quantifying how readily a defender cuts out balls that are meant for attackers. Smalling comes second in interceptions behind Vertoghen, also second in clearances behind Alderweireld, and completely obliterates both in aerial duels. Obviously vague things like organizing the backline, offside trap etc cannot be quantified and then you have to consider context and the fact they play for different teams, but Smalling matches up to both statistically.
Both Spurs CBs are better passers than Smalling, but he is able to pass and keep possession even under pressure too. His pass success rate is comparable to that of the other two.
Whoscored has Smalling and Vertonghen close. Smalling has a 6.92 overall rating to Vertonghen's 6.93 while Alderweirweld is at 6.82. Smalling has bested Alderweiweld on blocks per game, on being dribbled past, clearances, interceptions and tackles. He's also bested Vertonghen on blocks, being dribbled past and clearances. Vertonghen has Smalling on interceptions and tackles, and Smalling rarely commits to tackles, least among our CBs. Im looking at the detailed defensive stats individually
And most importantly he makes less mistakes. Verthongen has made a lot this season, unlike last season.
This. Simply put, they are both not much better than Smalling overall and Vertonghen is only marginally statistically better in United's worst season defensively in eons.
Surprised that the Caf hasn't had much to say about Smalling after that nose-breaking performance against Barca.
He had a pretty decent game I thought. Played in the centre of what looked like a 3 man defence. Was charged with leading the line (which included chaperoning Young, Lindelof, Shaw and Dalot). We didn't let many chances (if any) through down the middle of the pitch and I think he had a big role to play in that.
After all the flak he's gotten from the fanbase for signing a contract extension while Herrera is made to leave, I feel that the Barca game at the very least proved why he's a great *option* to have in defence.
Yeah but wait that one game in ten where he makes a mistake and then we can talk how he always has a mistake in him.
He's our best & most reliable defender.
Our best defender but unfortunately in the modern game you also need to be good with the ball at your feet, which Smalling is not.
I'd go as far as saying he's a better defender (defensively) than most CBs in the league. But he has a mistake in him, especially getting caught ball watching on quick movements often.
I don't understand why we don't play a higher line in games anymore like we did in LVG's reign. That was Smallings best ever season because he was quicker than 99% of the forwards and stronger than all of them. Liverpool do it with VVD and it makes him look like an utter beast.
Most the time a quick break won't matter a feck when you have a good defender the speed of Smalling because most teams play 1 CF/ST.
My guess is because we play on the counter attack, so we want our defenders further back to encourage the opposition to come forward so they lose the ball with numbers forward. If we played a high line then the opposition is going to be in their shape, but with forwards running in behind the defense.
In fairness, if he makes a mistake 1 game in 10, then he does have a mistake in him. 1 in 10 isn't bad though and comparable to the other big name defenders in the league. Our squad has a load of issues, Smalling would be way down the list.
Ah, ya. You're most likely right.
We might be able change this we new attacking players able to break down the bus, though.
Guess you're right. However, we don't have to play on the counter, because as we saw in the Barca game, we're plenty dominating if our midfield comes through and performs. And honestly, if it weren't for Pique and Jordi Alba, we'd have scored - which means we'll likely score a few against anyone outside the Top 6 in the PL (even Wolves).
So my point is - Smalling deserves more love than he gets. And if he's paired with a reliable, consistent defender who has good feet then our defence is sorted for next season.
I mean... They still had more of the ball.
But yeah I'm sure Smalling can play in either system
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