Date: 28th February 2011 at 12:30pm
Written by:

Hands up, all you Manchester United fans who were starting to get slightly annoyed at Sir Alex Ferguson’s transfer policy, when he decided to spend £10 million on a defender who had only played a handful of games in the Premier League? I won’t lie; I looked on with raised eyebrows. I mean, they lost the title to Chelsea, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes stepped ever closer to the end of their careers, Cristiano Ronaldo was never replaced and United responded with among others, Chris Smalling. Surely the manager has lost the plot, hasn’t he?

How wrong were we? I appreciate he may not be the answer to the problem left by Cristiano Ronaldo, but he has certainly reassured United fans on a couple of other pressing issues. With Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, there probably isn’t a better central defensive partnership around. But Fegie’s side used to fall apart at the back without the calmness of the England captain – and Ferdinand’s absence from the side is becoming a little too frequent these days. His understudy used to be Jonny Evans – a player Ferguson himself has a lot of faith in. But just ask the fans what they think of the Northern Irishman and that will tell you all you need to know about how much they appreciate the emergence of Chris Smalling. He has overtaken Evans in the pecking order, and for a 21-year-old who was playing non-league football just 18 months ago, his rise to the top has been quite astonishing.

When United announced the signing, the then Fulham manager Roy Hodgson, stated what a brilliant defender the Old Trafford club had just acquired. I looked back over his recent appearances and saw that he conceded an own goal against Chelsea and looked incredibly unstable. I couldn’t quite understand why Fergie had spent so much on a player who was yet to prove himself in the Premier League. Again, how wrong was I?

The defender has taken to Rio’s role like a duck to water. He’s proved himself already this season by slotting in at home to Rangers and away at Scunthorpe. But if there was ever a stage to announce yourself as a fully-fledged United regular, at home in the Manchester derby or a Champions League knock-out tie in France isn’t a bad place to start. Former red Henning Berg, said he was impressed with Smalling’s defending against Marseille, but he needs to become more composed on the ball and distribute better, if he is to really emulate the success of Rio Ferdinand. I’m not sure I agree with this. At times, Smalling looks so laid back he is in danger of falling over, and as for his distribution, he is certainly a better passer of the ball than Evans or any other United player who would sit in for Ferdinand. The problem Smalling had against Marseille was the lack of options, which wasn’t necessarily his fault.

Ferguson looks as though he has once again proved many of us wrong with a great signing. Arsene Wenger has even said he was courting Smalling for a while, which is probably why United were so keen to get the deal done. £10 million looks like small change if you consider the future of United’s defence is now in safe hands. We should all learn to trust Sir Alex a little more really, shouldn’t we? Mind you, Fergie, about this Bebe chap…

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Article by James Ireson, taken from Football Fancast

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13 responses to “Sir Alex shows he is still the master with this masterstroke”

  1. Tom says:

    For every Bebe there will be a Smalling, for every Obertan there will be a Hernandez, for every Rafael there will be… a Fabio?

    No manager get everything right but Fergie gets more right than most which is why he has been so successful.

    (p.s. as I think you are, I’m being tongue in cheek about Bebe and Obertan who could develop into decent players given time but unfortunately it is players like Smalling & Hernandez who make it hard to be patient with those players who don’t fit in as seamlessly.)

    • jonathan says:

      I completely agree. I think if a manager is at a 50% success rate for transfers of young talent who properly develop than that’s pretty good.

      Though we hope for the best for Obertan and Bebe, even if Smalling and Hernandez were the only ones to endure at the club, I’d still consider that period of transfer activity a success.

      Regarding the article in general, it’s simply amazing how Fergie’s simply been doing what he’s always done and built the team from youth. I’d bet he only averages pulling off a mega deal for a superstar only every 3 years or so.

    • Yosh says:

      Had i been a total ignorent so and so i would be slightly annoyed by you mentioning Fabio in that regards considering his competition for a spot is Evra possibly the best Left Back in the world.

      ..Fergie will retire and officially take his post as God. As a result of wich, it will trigger apocalypse and the much anticipated end of time..

  2. Callum says:

    This is my story, you robbed it off my laptop

  3. Rohit says:

    When it comes to defenders, saf’s judgement is pure gold..This kid has all the attributes to go a long long way..

  4. Devil is Red 19 says:

    Amazing lack of faith shown in Sir Alex here by this author. I was excited when we signed smalling, Arsene wenger was after him and for sir Alex to pay 10 mil he must have seen something special! Have you not learnt after 20+ years!!??? Have some faith u muppet. We are not Man city signing every player for £20mil +

    United is all about youth! Very suprising article on a good blog, bring chuck back

    • Yosh says:

      Lack of faith in what sense? The article to me was only pointing out what what seems like most fans were thinking at the time of the purchase. 90% of the fans that follow this blog are really strong faithful fans but are also realistic. If you for one minute think there has never been a stray in the united team you are clearly stuck in la la land.

  5. Reece says:

    I don’t think the fact Wenger was in for him means we should have had faith that he was good.
    Was a massive gamble and whilst he was good, being under SAF and playing and training alongside Rio and Vida has helped him tons.

    I remember there was scepticism around his signing and even more so after the OG against Celtic in the states.

    So nah no lack of faith or falsehood in the piece, his performances have eased our fears and justified SAF’s faith

    • Jonathan says:

      He conceeded a penalty against Celtic and it was in Canada, not the States. I was there.

      Okay, I’m just being picky, but I have to take what I can get living on the other side of the pond.

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