Manchester United supporters were left with mixed emotions about Chris Smalling after his goal staged the Red Devils comeback in a 3-2 win over Crystal Palace on Monday night.
The England international was partly at fault for Palace’s opener, where he allowed Christian Benteke to cut inside prior to his delivery for Andros Townsend, who found the scoresheet from a deflection.
The second came through a rather quick free-kick,which Antonio Valencia failed to spot, and Smalling could not do much than hope for an offside flag prior to Patrick van Aanholt’s goal.
Despite this, United came up with a strong reaction with Smalling netting their first goal via a neat header after a Valencia cross. Romelu Lukaku and a sensational strike from Nemanja Matic right at the end, ensured United came home with three points.
I wouldn't start smalling even in his own testimonial match.
— Ashish (@futbolpogs) March 5, 2018
My fear is our calamitous centre back pair of Smalling and Lindelof.
— Ijoma (@ij26b) March 6, 2018
Fair enough Ashley Young has had some good moments for United this season, but I just can’t comprehend why he starts over Luke Shaw. I’m also still bemused as to how Chris Smalling is at the club, but there we go.
— Liam Canning (@LiamPaulCanning) March 5, 2018
What a goal. Now we can actually start playing football. People still think Smalling is good enough to play at United.
— Öliver. (@UtdOliver) March 5, 2018
Forget that goal, Smalling is going to ruin Jose Mourinho. Lol
— Deji Faremi (@deejayfaremi) March 5, 2018
Things we learned today
1. Chris Smalling needs to be shipped. He scored but man he’s terrible
2. Lukaku will always be relevant to this united side
3. We owe Chelsea another 50m for Matic
4. It’s Man United Ya Know ! Come back Kings
— Mamaa (@ama_kusi) March 5, 2018
Smalling scores. We are all silenced by him. 2-1
— UNITEDARMY INDONESIA (@unitedarmyfc) March 5, 2018
Smalling has not been entirely secure in the Red Devils backline, but the fitness concerns to the likes of Eric Bailly, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo has allowed him to capitalise with an extended run in the starting lineup.
Ideally, Bailly and Victor Lindelof are considered the pair to consolidate the central defensive positions in the future, but until they manage to find a solution to the fitness and adaptation issues respectively, the senior defenders are likely to remain in preference.