Kenny Cunningham: Why Man United’s top-class Chris Smalling hasn’t surprised me

Kenny Cunningham explains why Manchester United star Chris Smalling is one of the defenders of the Premier League season so far

Chris Smalling always had the attributes to blossom into a top-class centre-half for Manchester United, according to Kenny Cunningham.

The England international has been one of the big positives for Louis van Gaal in an otherwise underwhelming Premier League season for the 20-time English champions.

He always had it there to be a top-class centre-half

Kenny Cunningham

Smalling has partnered Daley Blind, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo at centre-half this season as he helped United secure one of the best defensive records in the Premier League.

Although the Red Devils have suffered a setback in recent weeks, former Republic of Ireland centre-half Cunningham still believes Smalling has been one of the Premier League’s best defenders so far this season.

“He always had good defensive attributes,” Cunningham told Newstalk’s Off The Ball.

“He is very quick, good mobility and good physical presence. He is reasonably comfortable on the ball, he isn’t the type of centre-half to drop the shoulders and beat someone.

“But he always had it there to be a top-class centre-half. He just needed to believe in himself more. He seemed a little bit shy. He has been absolutely outstanding.”

Smalling has made one assist in 16 Premier League games for the Red Devils in the current 2015/16 campaign.

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Van Gaal’s side are in fifth place and nine points behind surprise leaders Leicester City in the Premier League table after a shock 2-1 defeat by Norwich City at Old Trafford on Saturday evening.

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