Manchester United defender Chris Smalling says that Louis van Gaal’s philosophy is finally getting through to the players, and credits the manager for improving his game.
Smalling has been one of United’s best players this season, yet to miss a single minute in the Premier League or Champions League. He is also getting closer to holding down a first-team place for England.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Smalling says that Van Gaal’s training methods are responsible for this increase in his performance.
“Yeah I think he [Van Gaal] has improved me, all the coaches I’ve worked with have helped me, especially Louis van Gaal.
“We work hard and tirelessly on the training ground with our tactics, we do 11 versus 11s a lot so we know our positions and our roles down to a tee.
“The repetition has really improved my game and a lot of the other players as well.
“The manager said at the start of the season that once you’ve been with him for six months and got used to the repetition of drills, the tactics and you know your role that we will get better.”
Despite concerns over United’s style of play under Van Gaal, Smalling also feels that there has been significant improvement this season.
“Whoever comes in knows their job. We have the training routine and the philosophy of the manager so every player knows what he wants and what he expects of you on the pitch.
“It’s very clear to us as players what we need to be done come matchday. We started this season a lot better than we did last season and we can see an improvement.”
That’s very true, with United only taking five points from their first five matches last season. That said, this still feels like a job in the early stages of progress. They head into the game against Southampton with five wins from their last 14 away league games, and also lost in Eindhoven in midweek.