“A lot of the young lads have been here for a long time,” he said. “I only came here in the summer and I wasn’t at Fulham for too long, so I have surprised myself how settled I have become. Manchester is quite different to London. It is a bit more chilled out up here and I only live five minutes from the training ground, so everything is nice and easy. A lot of my family come up quite often too, so on a personal level I feel really at ease. And the more games I play in, the more I feel like I belong here. I really feel good at the moment.”
Smalling has also hailed the education he is receiving from Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand.
“Vidic has had the biggest impact this season on us,” he continued. “That is why we have been so solid at the back so to have the chance to play with him is a massive boost for me. He is one of the world’s best central defenders so to get the chance to learn my trade next to him is invaluable. He is always talking to me, which makes my job a lot easier when I step into the team. His partnership with Rio Ferdinand is something I admired from afar so that chance to train with them each day and interact with them allows me to pick up bits and pieces of information, which is a real bonus. It is a big step for me. I am still improving but am trying to learn from all those experiences and kick on.”