The 25-year-old has been a regular starter this season and has been used alongside Dutchman Daley Blind at the heart of a Man United defence that has been breached just three times in five Premier League fixtures.
“I think he [Van Gaal] has [improved me], all the coaches I’ve worked with, especially Louis van Gaal, have helped me,”
“We work hard and tirelessly on the training ground with our tactics, we do 11 versus 11’s a lot so we know our positions and our roles down to a tee.
“The repetition has really improved my game and a lot of the other players as well.
“The manager said at the start of the season that once you’ve been with him for six months and got used to the repetition of drills, the tactics and you know your role that we will get better.
“There has obviously been a lot of ins and outs and, as a group, we’ve stayed very close-knit.
“Whoever comes in knows their job. We have the training routine and the philosophy of the manager so every player knows what he wants and what he expects of you on the pitch.
“It’s very clear to us as players what we need to be done come matchday. We started this season a lot better than we did last season and we can see an improvement.” Smalling concluded.
Van Gaal has certainly steadied the ship following David Moyes’ ill-fated spell in charge at Man United and having secured a return to the Champions League the experienced manager will hope to push on and challenge for major honours this term.