Manchester United encourage Chris Smalling to be more vocal

Sir Alex Ferguson has already expressed his delight at Chris Smalling's introduction to life at Manchester United. Now he wants the defender to start shouting at his team-mates.

Smalling started his seventh consecutive game for United at Old Trafford on Saturday when he anchored a beleaguered defence in the 1-0 Barclays Premier League win over Bolton.

It continued an incredible debut season with the Red Devils for the 21-year-old, who has confounded low summer expectations about the number of games he would play after arriving from Fulham.

However, it is not just the volume of matches that has taken Smalling by surprise. He has also had to assume far more responsibility.

With Rio Ferdinand missing for chunks of the campaign and skipper Nemanja Vidic also falling victim to United's defensive injury curse, Smalling cannot afford to let others dictate to him, which is why Ferguson and his coaching staff are urging the Londoner to let his team-mates know he is around.

"The coaching staff want me to start expressing myself a bit more," said Smalling.

"They think I am a bit quiet on the pitch. But it is starting to come. With more games I am sure that confidence will come across.

"At set-pieces in particular you have to be a figurehead when you are in central defence.

"You have to dictate and make sure people are marking. I have to make sure that comes across."

Not that Smalling is dismissing the value of experience.

He realises the value of having Vidic alongside him earlier in the campaign.

"It is important to have an experienced player with me," he said.

"I have not really faced these kind of strikers before, so having someone around to help has made it a lot easier. It gives you the confidence to cope."

That confidence has already come to the attention of England boss Fabio Capello, who drafted Smalling into his squad for the November friendly against France.

Although the former Maidstone star has since dropped back down, the exposure to senior international level was an eye-opener, even if he is looking no further ahead than this summer's European Under-21 Championships in Denmark.

"I have not thought about England," he said.

"I am very happy with the under-21s and we have the tournament in the summer that I would like to go to because I have helped with the qualifying stages.

"I am just focused on that."

Ferguson will doubtless remind Smalling that there is plenty to occupy his mind for the next couple of months as United chase glory on three fronts.

Smalling has already been indoctrinated in the United mantra of the Premier League being the most important prize of all.

"The more games we have to play the better," he said.

"You want to be in all the competitions right until the end and maintain the excitement.

"I know there are world-class teams from all over Europe in the Champions League.

"But that tournament is about what happens on the day.

"The league is the one I would really like to win. Finishing top after 38 games would be a big achievement."

Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect