Sir Alex Ferguson has been full of praise for Chris Smalling since he has come in to our first team, particularly at Scunthorpe, which has put Rio Ferdinand’s nose out of joint a tad. With Nemanja Vidic being preferred for the United captaincy, despite Rio retaining the England captaincy, Rio has felt a bit pushed out by the United manager.

With Rio being listed as a director at an incredible 10 companies, as well as becoming dreadfully injury prone, the manager has started to become weary. Apparently Fergie has told Rio this is his last chance to prove himself, to stay fit and to keep his eye on the ball.

However, I believe Rio being touchy about Ferguson’s praise of Smalling can only be seen as a good thing, because at least it means he still cares.

Regardless, Smalling looks up to Rio and there’s no denying it’d be hard for him to find a better defensive role model.

“The stature of the guy is something to look up to and he has been a real joy to be alongside,” Smalling said. “Rio has built up that presence over the years. He is just very commanding. On the ball, he just gives you that composure. Whether he puts on that captain’s armband or it is just in training, he is leading the team. I have had to pick up along the same way, because I am the eyes of the central midfielders and that is something I have been working on, and he has been helping me. Rio is great to play with, so is Vidic, so I cannot be in a better atmosphere to be learning my trade.”