Sir Alex Ferguson defends new signing Chris Smalling after debut clanger in United victory

July 17th, 2010

High point: Chris Smalling outjumps the Celtic defence (Photo: AP)

Sir Alex Ferguson expressed his satisfaction with Chris Smalling following the England Under-21 defender’s first game for Manchester United.  

Smalling partnered Jonny Evans in a new-look partnership at the back with Rio Ferdinand absent through injury and Nemanja Vidic on a break after the World Cup.  

The pair helped United defeat Celtic 3-1 in Toronto in the opening game of their five-match tour.  

Smalling, 20, had some difficult moments, not least of all when he conceded a penalty after a challenge on Joe Ledley and Georgios Samaras equalised.  

However, United boss Ferguson thought the former Fulham player – who was wearing the colours of non-league Maidstone only 18 months ago – emerged with credit at the Rogers Centre.  

He said: ‘I was pleased with Chris. We know he is good footballer, we know he is quick and is a good passer of the ball.  

‘There was a period after half-time when he had two fantastic headers with great purpose and showed his aerial ability.

‘He got caught a little bit with the penalty kick. The player ran from his blind side in behind him. But he is only young, he is only 20.’

Evans enjoyed the experience.  

‘It was good to play alongside Chris – we just tried to keep things simple between us, ‘ said the Northern Ireland international.  

‘He is a great lad, he has trained hard and hopefully he can do well for us.’

Inspired by striker Dimitar Berbatov, United proved too strong for Celtic, who also lost to Philadelphia Union on Wednesday.  

Berbatov opened the scoring with a cool finish and then set up Danny Welbeck for the second as they regained their lead.  

Tom Cleverly, who came off the bench like Welbeck, added a third, his shot taking a deflection off Darren O’Dea.  

Berbatov was named man of the match and Evans said: ‘He was fantastic. He scored one and created the other two and looked in really good form.’

Evans felt United were good value for their victory. The squad were due to head to Philadelphia later today

He said: ‘It was a good win and a decent performance. We were in control of the game in the first half, but after they equalised they started to get a bit more of a grip on the game.  

‘We came back though to score twice and I think we deserved the win. It’s nice to get that first game under your belt.  

‘The training has been pretty intense, but everyone is working hard and it was good to start with a win.’

Ferguson confirmed that Owen Hargreaves will remain in the United States for treatment on his persistent knee problems.  

Ferguson said: ‘He had a recurrence of the knee injury which is of great concern to us. He will remain there until he is ready to come back and train.  

‘There is no point in leaving the people who are treating him and did the operation and we have to send him back again. It is pointless.’

Source: DailyMail

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