It’s easy to forget that some players are just better suited to a certain style of football. It’s so rare to see a British player move abroad that we never get to see them in a different style and culture, so they tend to get written off if they don’t excel in the Premier League.
Chris Smalling completed a surprise loan switch to Roma this Summer, and it certainly seems like he’s had a decent start to life in Serie A. He’s had some positive reviews for his performances and reports suggest he’s enjoying the experience.
In his case, a change in style might actually bring the best out of him. The Manchester Evening News recently commented on an interview that Smalling gave to the Roma official site.
He had been speaking about settling into life in Italy and how the style might be better suited to him. Smalling said: “I think compared to England you have a lot more teams who are playing with two central forwards, who are causing you a lot more problems.”
He went on to say: “In England quite often you have to deal with just one striker, so you’ve got your other central defender covering you – whereas often here you can be left two-on-two a lot of the time. There’s a lot more runs in behind being made too.”
Speaking why this could suit him better than English football he said: “So it’s definitely new challenges, which I’m enjoying – because I quite like a tussle and a sprint against the striker. It definitely suits my game.”
It’s interesting to here him talk so positively about the move. It’s fair to say he was often criticised at United for making a lot of mistakes and some generally poor play as they conceded a lot of goals. He looks like the kind of player who could be solid defensively but always looked in trouble trying to pass the ball.
If he’s only tasked with focusing on defending then it could bring out the best of him and show fellow pros why they should consider a move abroad, even as they do approach their 30’s.
It feels just now that most players only want to move abroad when they get older and want one last pay day, usually to MLS. This shows them that moving in your prime can still be a positive career move.