Manchester United defender Chris Smalling says that the prospect of working with Sir Alex Ferguson was impossible to refuse when he signed for the club in 2010. The 25-year-old has played a bit part in the team since signing, but under Van Gaal he has hugely prospered and staked his claim in both United’s and England’s squads.
His vast improvements in 2015 are clearly due to manager Louis van Gaal and his training methods. His rise to form has been incredible since the sending off he received against Manchester City last season, and now the centre back has been rewarded with being made vice-vice captain – behind Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick.
Smalling has been one of the major successes under the Dutchman, but it previously didn’t seem as if the player would ever fulfil his potential.
Ferguson signed Smalling in 2010 for £10m from Fulham, who at the time were managed by current England boss Roy Hodgson. Although, Fergie wasn’t the only boss interested in the youngster. Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger also showed a big interest in the 6’3 defender.
However, Smalling admits he didn’t think twice about working with Ferguson.
“It happened so fast,” he said. “I was getting settled at Fulham, then to have that interest so quickly was a dream.”
“To know that Sir Alex Ferguson wanted you to play for him was an opportunity that was too hard to refuse.”
It wasn’t until the departures of Vidic and Ferdinand upon Van Gaal’s arrival in the summer of 2014 that the way began to clear for Smalling.
Van Gaal says it is the player who deserves the credit for his improvement on the pitch, but the United manager’s trust in him has been influential.
“I’ve been lucky enough to to work with some very good managers and I feel like over the last year I’ve been able to stay injury-free and get a consistent run,” said Smalling.
“My form was a bit up and down so it was a case of showing that consistency, which is something you really need at the top level.”
[Quotes via Manchester Evening News]