Chris Smalling lauds impact of Anthony Martial arrival this summer

Manchester United defender Chris Smalling believes that the arrival of French teenager Anthony Martial this summer has injected the right things into the current squad. The 19-year-old signed for United on deadline day for a £36 million fee, which could rise to £58 million in the future. At first, this was criticised by many, but then the striker scored a stunning goal against Liverpool on his debut, failed to score away to PSV Eindhoven in the UEFA Champions League, but then scoring a brace away to Southampton in the league. The Frenchman scored his fourth goal in as many matches against Ipswich Town in the Capital One Cup nearly a week ago, following that up with a Man of the Match performance against Sunderland this weekend.

Smalling and his team-mates have been training with Martial for the past month, helping him adapt to his new club, which he does not seem to have had much trouble with so far. The Frenchman has managed to score four goals in five appearances, which is not something to sniff at, especially given his age and those being his first five matches at the club. Martial registered an assist for Wayne Rooney against Sunderland this weekend, which shows that he is not only a predator in front of goal, but a creator too, which is a great sign for the future. Manchester United have needed this for a long time. Smalling spoke to United Review, via the official Manchester United website ahead of the VfL Wolfsburg match at Old Trafford in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday, saying:

“If you could ask for a moment to announce yourself on the world stage, it would be in a massive game like Liverpool at home,” Smalling explains. “It was a great moment and a lot of people took notice of how well he dribbled at players, how direct he was and how he took his goal.

“That’s something we’ve needed this season. He continued his good form by scoring twice at Southampton and again against Ipswich, so he’s enjoyed a great start to his United career.

“In that snippet against Liverpool, you get a real idea of how he is. He is one who is very direct, he is willing to take on players and he is willing to take on that risk. I think, in the final third, it is an area where you can take that risk because you can’t take it at the back. He looks a very sharp player.”

United achieved the top spot in the Premier League on Saturday evening, earning 16 points from a possible 21 in the first seven matches in the league this season. This time last season, United earned fewer points in their first ten matches of the season, so the start to the current season must be lauded as a start of things to come. The is of course a long way to go until the end of the season, and many things will happen which will see United drop points and fire criticism their way. Smalling feels that United could win the league title should they still be in the running by the New Year, which is when United have found their feet and start to play their best football, under Sir Alex Ferguson at least. Smalling continued by saying:

“We have improved. Last season’s start was disastrous and it didn’t give us a foothold to be able to challenge for anything. We know that we have improved in this section of the season, and we now have to improve in each other section compared to last season and aim a lot higher.

“Our aim is to be competitive in all of the competitions and to make sure that we finish higher in the Premier League than we did last season. If we keep this consistent run from the start, and can maintain that all the way through, then I don’t think anything is out of reach.

“If you show that consistency then you will always be there or thereabouts. If you’re near the top by Christmas, you then want a strong finish and a bit of luck on your side as well.”

The match against VfL Wolfsburg on Wednesday will end September for United, which will also see the nominees for the Player of the Month put forward by the Old Trafford club, MUFCLatest will be doing the same at some point on Thursday. Smalling was involved in the clubs final three last month, finishing second, with Matteo Darmian winning the prize instead. Smalling concluded by saying:

“Yeah, I thought that was nice. Obviously, you want to please the coaching staff here and you want to please the fans. They are the two that I mainly concentrate on. If you listen to too many things then you can be up and down like a rollercoaster! The manager is the one who can improve you and, with the fans, if you keep them happy then you know that you are doing okay.

“Matteo was a worthy winner. He has come into the club and he hasn’t needed any time to settle in. He has literally hit the ground running and that is full credit to him, to be able to adjust to a different league and a different culture. He has improved the team in such a short space of time, so I think that makes him a very worthy winner. There’s a long way to go, but he’s made a good start.”

Manchester United have made some massive improvements this season, getting rid of the player who were holding the club back, bringing in a mixture of experience and talent, which seems to be working thus far. Alongside Anthony Martial, the likes of Matteo Darmian, Morgan Schneiderlin, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Memphis Depay are all great signings for the club, the keeping David De Gea after his failed move to Real Madrid will be seen as the best signing of the summer, securing the defence for the better, even though Sergio Romero did not do too shabby for the first few matches of the season. Louis van Gaal could inspire his side to glory this season.


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