Manchester United are yet to fully recover from the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson. But it looks like one of his visions is set to come true against Hull City in the League Cup.
It was not too long ago when the legendary Scottish manager sang the praises of his two English center-halves Chris Smalling and Phil Jones. Things have changed drastically since then, with Sir Alex stepping down and both players flattering, only to deceive.
However, the legendary Scottish manager’s vision for the future of the United defence is set to take form in the League Cup. The injury to Marcos Rojo and Eric Bailly’s departure for the African Cup of Nations, means that Smalling and Jones are set to start against Hull on Tuesday.
Chris Smalling was asked about his relationship with Jones ahead of the game, and the 27-year-old spoke about the mental connection that the two share.
“ It’s true, we haven’t [played together much],” Smalling told the Daily Mirror.
“ We’ve trained a lot, but in matches we haven’t played too much. But we’ve been together for a long time now and we know each other’s game. I know him most out of all the centre-backs here. In the last couple of years I’ve been able to stay injury-free and Phil’s had more hard luck.”
Chris Smalling joined Manchester United from Fulham in 2010, and Jones arrived from Blackburn Rovers a year later. They had played together at the U21 level and were a very highly rated duo, with many hailing them as natural successors to the Rio Ferdinand-Nemanja Vidic axis.
However, injury issues and a lack of form has prevented either of them from living up to that potential. Phil Jones, in particular, has been struggling with many injury problems, and as a result, the duo haven’t really had a successful and prolonged period in the starting line-up.
The game against Hull could be the beginning of a new era though. Smalling was in excellent form last season and has been one of the consistent performers for United over the past couple of seasons. Jones too, has hit a rich vein of form in recent weeks since coming back from injury.
Although there’s still a long way to go for them to match up to the exploits of Ferdinand and Vidic, Sir Alex Ferguson’s dream for the United defence is slowly turning into reality.