Chris Smalling: Man United manager Louis van Gaal has improved me

Chris Smalling explains how he has become a better player under Louis van Gaal

Chris Smalling says he has improved under Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal.

The England international was handed the captain’s armband for their 2-1 defeat by PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League on Tuesday night.

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

Chris Smalling

The Red Devils have won three of their five Premier League games so far this season ahead of their long trip to St Mary’s on Sunday afternoon.

And Smalling, who has helped United keep three clean sheets in the English top-flight, says Van Gaal’s relentless repetition has helped improve his game.

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

“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.”

Former Fulham defender Smalling has emerged as United’s first-choice centre-half in the opening six weeks of the Premier League season.

The England defender has partnered Netherlands international Daley Blind at centre-half in the absence of Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones.

MORE: Read the latest Man United player tweets

United make the trip to Southampton and have won at the south coast club in seven of their last eight visits.

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