Man United had a howler over Chris Smalling

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s time as Manchester United manager will go down as underwhelming, to say the least. He failed to win a trophy in nearly three years in charge at the club while making off-field decisions which set the club back.

He splashed out £80m on the much-criticised Harry Maguire in 2019 while also wasting money on the likes of Donny van de Beek and Daniel James, but he arguably had his biggest howler by selling Chris Smalling in 2020.

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The Englishman was sold for £18m to Serie A giants AS Roma, and he has gone on to thrive in Italy.

Last season, United conceded a total of 57 goals in the Premier League, 14 more than the Giallorossi shipped from the same number of Serie A games, and Smalling clearly enjoyed being reunited with his former Red Devils boss Jose Mourinho at the Stadio Olimpico.

He even managed to win silverware with Roma as they claimed the inaugural Europa Conference League title, and he excelled during that triumph by averaging a Sofascore rating of 7.19/10.

He kept four clean sheets across ten matches while winning a staggering 80% of his duels, along with making 3.5 clearances per game, and he was clearly an integral member of the team which claimed Roma’s first European trophy in 61 years.

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Media personality Imoh Umoren even dubbed Smalling “one of the best defenders in the world on current form” last April, and the ex-Fulham centre-back certainly justified it with his form in Europe.

The 33-year-old has carried on that form into this season, playing 23 times in Serie A and keeping eight clean sheets while utilising his physical presence with his 6 foot 4 frame to win 66% of his duels.

Smalling is clearly enjoying himself in Italy, and his performances in recent months show that United had a howler by getting rid of him when they did.

There is no guarantee that Erik ten Hag would have played him as often as Mourinho has, but the Englishman’s experience and ability would surely have made him a solid option to be called upon when required.