What Solskjaer Said To Chris Smalling Before His Loan Move To Roma

Man Utd manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with Chris Smalling during the press conference.

Reuters/Lee Smith

Manchester United were often critiqued for the quality of their defense, or lack thereof, in recent years.

Even under a defensively capable gaffer like Jose Mourinho, the Red Devils didn’t boast the best of defenders. The tag of mediocrity was oft attached to the Old Trafford outfit’s backline, a sharp departure from the days of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand.

As a result, the club was often reliant on the shotstopping heroics of David De Gea to power their victories through.

This summer saw a sharp change in that with the defensive reinforcements of Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who were purchased purely to amend the aforementioned flaws.

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In terms of departures, Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian were permitted to leave the side.

Further, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and company also chose to offload Chris Smalling on a season-long loan to Roma in order to best accommodate the defensive options at the club.

Now, Smalling reveals precisely what the Norwegian gaffer told him prior to the move.

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Speaking to the Telegraph, Smalling reveals: “He (Solskjaer) said I would get games. I am used to playing when I am fit. Although that might have been slightly different this season, I would have had the cup games and then in the league, depending on injuries.”

The 29-year-old defender goes on to add: “Would it have been the 40-50 games that I am used to if fit? It might have been the 20-30. Still a good number of games but I want to play.”

While Solskjaer has found tremendous success in the defensive pairing of Lindelof and Maguire, the recent heroics of Axel Tuanzebe also paint a hopeful future for the club.

Further, it is evident that the gaffer is planning on building a balanced ethos at Old Trafford and defensive stability is crucial to that style.