Manchester United vs Chelsea: Smalling Another Sign Youth Movement Was Good Move

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistSeptember 19, 2011

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 18:  Chris Smalling of Manchester United scores the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on September 18, 2011 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Chris Smalling deposited an Ashley Young free kick in the eighth minute and in the process continued to make manager Sir Alex Ferguson look like a genius. The goal was the first of three for Manchester United in its triumph over Chelsea.

Smalling is one of several players, including Tom Cleverley, Danny Welbeck and Anderson, that Ferguson decided to give more playing time this season instead of seeking help in the transfer market.

The results have been better than even the most diehard Red Devils' supporters probably expected as the team has raced out to a 5-0-0 start. Their 15 points are two more than crosstown rival Manchester City, who drew Fulham on Sunday.

The 21-year-old Smalling has appeared in all five league games for United on the defensive back line. He will likely miss Tuesday's Carling Cup clash with Leeds United due to a groin injury picked up against the Blues, but should be fine moving forward.

He's held his own in high-pressure situations against Chelsea and in the final minutes against West Bromwich Albion in the season opener.

A huge presence on defense, Smalling stands at 6'4'' and nearly 200 pounds and isn't afraid to use that size to his advantage. A gentle giant he is not. Having that type of height helps the Red Devils defend free kicks with a much greater sense of ease.

As with any young player, there will be growing pains throughout the season. With the way Manchester United is playing right now though, they should be able withstand any problems from their young group of contributors.

The only worry about the new lineup additions is staying fit. Welbeck has already gone down with a hamstring injury that will keep him out at least a month and while Smalling's groin ailment doesn't sound serious, those have a tendency to linger.

You can't help the team if you're spending too much time on the injured list. Thankfully for Manchester United, they have terrific depth and can survive the short-term losses.

There were no doubts about Ferguson's managing ability before the season but the results he has received after his summer decisions remind everybody just how valuable he is at Old Trafford.