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Manchester United may already have the “New Ferdinand”

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Chris Smalling has looked like a seasoned Manchester United player since he first arrivedWith Rio Ferdinand presumably nearing the end of his footballing career, United’s search for a replacement to one of England’s ‘Golden Age’ stars seems to be over, with the coming of age of another Englishman – Chris Smalling.

Smalling arrived from Fulham in January 2010 after originally having played in for the non- league team, Maidstone. Smalling‘s composure, speed and strength have seen him install himself as Vidic and Ferdinand’s understudy throughout the 2010/2011 season. The 21 year old has also been called up for England’s senior squad against France, but was an unused substitute. Smalling’s impressive form has seen him promoted above club teammates Jonny Evans and utility player John O’Shea.

Like Ferdinand, Smalling’s impressive stature makes him a dominant force in the United team, and with Ferdinand’s no-nonsense defending evident in Smalling’s game, there are similarities. However, unlike many, Smalling is also extremely composed under pressure as was evident in his recent outings in the Champions League and the Manchester Derby, where he showed he is not afraid or intimidated by the big stage. But will Smalling become another united player who is not trusted in succeeding United’s living legends by Ferguson, like teammate Jonny Evans, who seems to have fallen out of favour at Old Trafford?

Smalling’s dominant figure which likens him to both Vidic and Ferdinand is obviously preferred by the United boss; both Vidic and Ferdinand being key factors in why United have won two premiership titles in the last three years. Moreover, Smalling’s similar attributes to Ferdinand are evident, but as the English captain continues to age, his speed and athleticism will have arguably already dropped – areas in Smalling’s game that are very strong.

Ferdinand is arguably the model English centre back with dominance, composure and strength all evident in his game. Smalling definitely has a bright future in both the red of Manchester and the white of England. But although no one can foresee Smalling’s future, with a tutor such as Ferdinand, there is a definite chance that United’s search for a ‘new Ferdinand’ may be less difficult and less expensive than first thought.

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