Dove Magazine

Chris Smalling flourishing under Louis van Gaal’s tutelage at Manchester United

Chris Smalling says the meticulous training methods of Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal have allowed him to flourish under the Dutchman’s tutelage.

Chris Smalling has built on the success during the tail-end of last season.

Chris Smalling has built on the success during the tail-end of last season.

The England centre-back has been one of the star performers at Old Trafford this season, marshalling the United backline in the Reds’ successful start to the campaign.

And, speaking exclusively to Sky Sports ahead of United’s trip to Southampton on Super Sunday, Smalling confirmed he had benefited from Van Gaal’s training methods.

“Yeah I think he [Van Gaal] has [improved me], all the coaches I’ve worked with, especially Louis van Gaal, have helped me,” he said.

“We work hard and tirelessly on the training ground with our tactics, we do 11 versus 11s a lot so we know our positions and our roles down to a tee.

“The repetition has really improved my game and a lot of the other players as well.

“The manager said at the start of the season that once you’ve been with him for six months and got used to the repetition of drills, the tactics and you know your role that we will get better.

“There has obviously been a lot of ins and outs and, as a group, we’ve stayed very close-knit.

“Whoever comes in knows their job. We have the training routine and the philosophy of the manager so every player knows what he wants and what he expects of you on the pitch.

“It’s very clear to us as players what we need to be done come matchday. We started this season a lot better than we did last season and we can see an improvement.”

Smalling has played every minute of United’s eight Premier League and Champions League fixtures so far this season.

His ever-present status at the back has prompted Van Gaal to hand him captain’s armband at Old Trafford in the absence of captain Wayne Rooney and vice-captain Michael Carrick.

And Smalling is relishing the opportunities that consistent football is creating for him with at United.

“It’s a great honour,” Smalling replied when asked about captaining Manchester United.

“Knowing you’ve got the manager’s trust to lead the team out when Carras [Carrick] and Wazza [Rooney] are not available is nice.

“It’s nice to know the manager has got that trust in me and I hope to deliver.

“I’ve really enjoyed it. Considering how last season started, when I was stop-start and didn’t pick up until November where I got a consistent run of games.

“So to be able to start with a clean bill of health and to have the manager’s faith has given me the confidence to kick on and make sure I have a full season and justify my place.”


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