After Chris Smalling’s terrific start to the season at Roma, 2020 has not been so impressive for the United loanee. After last night, his honeymoon may be over.
Over recent months United supporters have been left to question if letting the centre-back go was the right move.
Could this defender, looking like a superstar in Serie A, really be the player we saw at Manchester United over the past nine seasons?
Last night re-emphasised that the ‘Smalldini’ nickname he has earned in Italy is premature.
Roma lost their second game in a row last night and have now won just one of their last five.
Smalling was at fault for Bologna’s second goal in a 3-2 away win. He hesitated after a cross came in, instead of clearing it, allowing Musa Barrow to nip in and score a simple goal.
This isn’t to say ‘that’s it, Smalling is rubbish’. He’s a good defender, prone to silly mistakes.
He is far less error prone than Phil Jones, and his time at United was unfairly stigmatised by association with his teammate.
Smalling would be a useful part of this United team still had he stayed, but let’s not get it wrong, he is who he is.
He has not suddenly transformed into Nemanja Vidic out in Italy, he’s still capable of gaffes just like he would occasionally make at United.
We have seen Smalling over nine years, and that’s a better time to judge him than over the five months he has spent at Roma. He’s capable of being excellent, and chipping in with important goals too, but he can also occasionally be a liability.
Fans of the Italian club may have had their eyes opened last night and in recent matches.
Selling him for a top price this summer might not be as easy as we would like.
Smalling faces a challenge to bounce back from this and find form again, especially if he still harbours hope of getting back into the England squad in 2020.
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