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Smalling To Start Against City

Sir Alex Ferguson has today revealed that Chris Smalling will play alongside Nemanja Vidic in this weekend’s derby.

Rio Ferdinand was injured in the warm up ahead of the Wolves defeat at the weekend so Jonny Evans filled in for him. The manager revealed after the game he would have preferred to start with Smalling, a more natural replacement for Rio, but he hadn’t been involved in the warm up because he hadn’t been named on the bench.

Following Evans’ generally poor form, particularly when dealing with challenges in the air, many United fans will be relieved to hear Smalling is starting, despite his inexperience.

“Rio Ferdinand is out for a couple of weeks with a calf problem and Jonny Evans got injured training with Northern Ireland, so Chris Smalling will play,” said Ferguson. “I’m sure young Chris will do well.”

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. Mr Santos says:


  2. mancstan says:

    I would not wish injury on anyone, but that is good news.

  3. spirit 0f '99 says:

    Getting injured during a warm-up? 120k a week? Unbelievable!! Get rid of him.

  4. jay says:

    Rio Ferdinand is one of the best defenders in the world and although Vidic gets the applause for his brute force. Rio is an intelligent defender who uses his intelligence and pace to defend. When he is on the pitch with Vidic I have no worries at all but when Vidic is without Rio I get a bit tense. It is just a shame that he is getting injured but I would not swap him for anyone.

  5. kk says:

    Smalling will have to be tough mentally to withstand this big match pressure. We need to destroy their spirit. Rooney to bring his A game and we needs lots of attitude to unsettle them

  6. wiuru says:

    @ jay

    Dead on post .

  7. Costas says:

    I hope Smalling does well tomorrow. If City line up with 4-5-1, it should be comfortable for him. If they play Dzeko with Tevez, I’ll get nervous.

    As I mentioned in another thread, if we need experience at the back, there’s always our forgotten numer 6…

  8. rat1p says:

    If dzeko plays they will get a lot of high balls in the box,i really hope that chris can deal with them cause nemanja cant be everywhere

  9. Antipod says:

    Rio out, Johnny out … still no place for Wes in the starting lineup … I guess he`s leaving this summer x/

  10. Costas says:


    I am surprised he survived the January trasfer window to be honest. Maybe because Gary retired. Whatever the case, we could have done with him in games like tomorrow’s or at Marseille.

  11. Giles Oakley says:

    I’m glad it’s Chris Smalling as Jonny Evans’ form is so in-and-out. It’s not just his uncertainty in the face of any sort of aerial bombardment but also his indecisiveness on the ball, which slows up the playing out of defence or, worse, ends up with him getting caught in possession. I can see Tevez buzzing around trying to nick the ball and Smalling has good quick feet for a big man. He’s also always looking to get attacks started and doesn’t get phased when he makes an error, which he inevitably does from time to time with his lack of experience. I just hope he doesn’t get dragged out to the wing too often, leaving space behind him, which is a weakness he has. Whatever, if he does make mistakes please let’s not have anyone getting on his back.

    In the longer term I really hope Evans can re-discover his form and confidence as he used to be a very fine prospect, as shown by the way he handled Torres when playing as a kid for Norn Ireland. One solution might be to play him at left back, which is where he’s often played in the national team, or – a wild idea here – play him wide-midfield and give him licence to push up. When on form he likes to get up in attack and he’s a good header of the ball at corners. Might just get him going again.

  12. bigphil2003 says:

    @jay – Spot on there lad, Rio seems to be integral to organising the defence and reading the game so we always look more disorganised without him. Vidic might do the dirty work better but i think we miss Rio more when he’s out.

  13. willierednut says:

    Big test for Smalling and I’m sure City will try and target him. Rio out is a massive blow for us, Vidic isn’t the same without him. Will need to protect the lad, as lacks experience in big games.

  14. smartalex says:

    Chris Smalling has the big advantage of knowing already that he is playing tomorrow. This prior knowledge will make a huge difference to our defense. They will be fairly settled, and well prepared.

  15. willierednut says:

    smartalex – Nothing can prepare you for a derby mate. It’s unlike any other game. I’m sure smalling will be a bit nervous, that’s why I hope he gets protected.

  16. Red Ben says:

    I’m glad that Smalling is getting this chance, although there aren’t really any other options. Were Evans fit, I worry that Fergie would have been tempted to go for his experience and leave us vulnerable in the air.

    Smalling is also a far more natural replacement for Rio. He really does look the real deal.

  17. smartalex says:

    Willierednut – Smalling will be nervous, rightly so. Rio is our best defender, especially his reading of the game, his positional sense, his command of the defenders as a unit. At least the defense is preparing accordingly. Had we only found out that Rio is unavailable at the last second, we would be at much more of a disadvantage.

    I think that we will play 4 – 5 – 1, directly as a result of Rio’s absence. Carrick will then protect VidaSmalling, with Paul and Ryan breaking up play. Who Knows?

  18. indiandevil says:

    A brilliant read on expiring player contacts at Old Trafford, who all will leave the theatre of dreams?

  19. stretfordend_ryda says:

    smalling wins pretty much everything in the air! so let them play that mighty midget tevez on his own from the start!

  20. smartalex says:

    A brilliant read on who will play at the theatre of dreams?

  21. smartalex says:

    The FA are considering enforcing a Fifa regulation which states that players cannot appear for their club during an international call-up which can be ‘prolonged by five days if the player did now wish to or was unable to comply with the call up’.

  22. smartalex says:

    Perhaps we needn’t worry about Smalling replacing Rio.
    This is the last 2 years Premiership games:

    Premiership……With Rio……….Without Rio
    Goals for………….55……………..86
    Goals against….20……………..32
    Win ratio………….68 %…………66 %
    Points ave……….2.29…………..2.14

  23. willierednut says:

    Stats damn stats! Means nothing. Are United better with Rio, or without him?

  24. smartalex says:

    United are better with Rio.

  25. willierednut says:


  26. smartalex says:


  27. willierednut says:


  28. MyCowIsTheBest says:

    guys.. this is bad news.. who is going to provide cover then? We have only Vida and Smalling now.. I hope to see Brown in the subs tomorrow..

  29. smartalex says:

    Sometimes I think you’re just too good for me, you give me the sweetest taboo.

  30. willierednut says:

    smartalex – lol.

  31. smartalex says:

    willierednut – lipop.

  32. Dave Malaysia says:

    I beleive Chris will do well . God Bless.

  33. willierednut says:

    That’s deep Dave.

  34. Dave Malaysia says:

    @willierednut: yes child,sit by my feet as we meditate for victory in battle tomolo.

    well he has done well ,got something special about him Fergie done well again in recruiting,
    and we are family,Manutd family,God Bless.

  35. smartalex says:

    We depend on ‘Deep End’ Dave for insightful inspiration and divine blessing!

  36. mickjk says:

    @ Jay I agree with rio immenseness. I was asked by some ABUs about world class english players and my first answer was rio. These unintelligent fuckers laughed and still do. this was months ago. How are the so blind to not his huge quality. He is without doubt very hard to argue when looked at objectively definitely in the top 2/ 3 players in the world. I asked these guys to name me 5 defenders in the world who are better. David Luiz was one of their answers. hahaha. Pique and Puyol were another 2 but i was quick to show them an article where pique himself said that rio and vida were the best in the world and some brazilian fella who’s name they couldn’t remember whats his face? think he used to play for munich maybe now milan? but they struggled got red faced and i found it funny. good times.

  37. smartalex says:

    tomolo, tomolo, tomolo’s just olomot backwards.

  38. mickjk says:

    Oh aye Chris Smalling. I think in about 5 six years time this could be a game that he reflects on as a big moment in his career. I like him, great young player who i think will do really well. The gaffer did well in announcing he’d be playing. It’ll take the pressure of chris rather than put it on. City would have been well up for ruthlessly targeting the undetermined younger defender but now they have the opportunity to specifically focus on his few weaknesses. Which i think in turn could lead to city trying specific things too hard but we’ll know what they’ll be trying thus giving us the upper hand.

  39. Dave Malaysia says:

    @smartalex : wei ,are u teasing me whats with the End bit ? me no go deep end!

    man, the tension is getting quiet ………
    how ur handling it?

  40. mickjk says:

    or unconfirmed defender? Any way i just think its better that city aren’t guessing if it’ll be johnny or Chris.

  41. willierednut says:

    “whats beef?

  42. smartalex says:

    I’m struggling Dave. A whisky to calm my nerves, and maybe a couple more. The pressure is always there, but the depth varies. Your blessing came out of the deep end.

  43. Dave Malaysia says:

    @smartalex; takeit easy onthe whisky bro,lol, well say a prayer for our Manutd family.

    The keys forgiveness,gratitude,blessings.

    ok dude me go now sleep 4am here ,got to do remote grabbing operation tomolo cos its an early game 8.45 pm here.

    Take care.

  44. smartalex says:

    Cheers Dave, God Bless!


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