When last I wrote here, it was after the miserable run of form in November where United were seemingly losing further touch with the top 4 every week. What a differeance a month makes! We have now won three games in a row, performances are picking up and we are very much back in touch with the top 4 which as I said a few month ago, would be more than enough for me this season.
I will be the first to admit that when I wrote the last post, I was frustrated by the trend of frustrating results but one thing I absolutely stand by is my criticism of Chris Smalling. He’s been out for the past month and as far as I’m concerned, it’s no coincidence that we’re winning and looking far more comfortable at the back in his absence.
Rojo and Jones Have Been A Revelation
With Eric Bailly injured I feared for our defence but it has to be said, Jones and Rojo have really stepped up to the plate. They’ve been so good that I hope Bailly does not come back into the team until after the Africa Cup of Nations unless it’s because Jose wants to rotate the squad during the festive period.
If he were to come back into the team automatically now, it would only be for a handful of games over the Christmas period before he’s off to represent his country. Jones and Rojo are doing so well that it makes no sense to break up what is turning into a fantastic partnership for the sake of a few games.
The problem is though, with the hectic Christmas period upon us, it’s highly likely that the squad is going to be rotated and it wouldn’t at all surprise me if Jones is rested for at least one game, especially with his injury record.
If the squad is to be rotated, that leaves the door open for both Smalling and Bailly and I have this horrible feeling inside that it will be Smalling that gets the nod with Bailly’s upcoming departure. I really don’t want him to get his foot back in the door of the first team. I want him on the sub’s bench where he belongs or better yet, sold off so I can just forget about him.
I hate how rubbish he is on the ball and I hate the panic you can sense from him every time he’s in possession and put under pressure because he doesn’t have the skill or finesse to look up and pick a pass to get himself out of trouble. I honestly thinks he’s the worst player with a football at his feet that I’ve ever seen representing Manchester United.
Please Jose, leave Chris Smalling on the bench over Christmas, I’m begging you! If you are to rotate the squad, bring in Bailly, bring in Blind. Heck, bring in Fosu-Mensah. I think all of this is wishful thinking though. I believe Jose will stick with Jones and Rojo but Smalling will manage to worm his way back into the starting line up via a rotation system and who knows where things will go from there?
It wouldn’t surprise me if he remains in the team until he messes up another game, like he did against Manchester City, like he did against Chelsea, like he tried to do in both the semi and FA cup final. We’ll have to wait and see.
Then again, maybe I have no idea what I’m talking about and Smalling will come back into the team and prove his worth, as Jones and Rojo have. When I say that I may have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m certainly not alone.
For example, you could take a look at the first few pages of the Phil Jones Performances thread from RedCafe.net which is a large Manchester United fans’ forum. The first few pages, which are about his injuries at the start of the season before he got into the team, make for very entertaining reading. Here are a few of my favourite quotes (I’m paraphrasing slightly).
- Rip up his contract
- Give him away to anyone that will take him
- Joke of a footballer
- Worst thing we ever did was give him a 4 year contract
- How anyone could have any hope that he’ll make it is beyond me
With how he’s playing at the moment, these comments look ridiculous just a few months down the road. Maybe at the end of the season I will look just as clueless with my comments about Smalling. I would love to look clueless and for Smalling to prove me wrong. Come on Chris, prove me wrong if Jose puts you back in the team.