Manchester United fans have urged Erik ten Hag to look into re-signing Chris Smalling after the former Red Devil helped Roma lift the Europa Conference League trophy.
The centre-back put in a commanding display at the heart of Roma’s defence as Nicolo Zaniolo’s smart finish proved to be the only goal of the game as the Giallorossi defeated Feyenoord 1-0 in Tirana. The triumph also saw former United boss Jose Mourinho become the first manager to win a major European competition with four different clubs.
However, it was Smalling’s return that United fans were longing for after the final. The 32-year-old, who United let go permanently back in 2020, put in a Man of the Match performance which left United fans sending the same message to new manager Ten Hag.
Following the defender’s heroic display, one fan noted: “That Chris Smalling fella has been a top, solid defender for Roma tonight. Maybe worth a look, Erik?” while another wrote: “@ManUtd, please tell me Smalling is just on loan at Roma,” followed by a crying face emoji.
United initially loaned Smalling to Roma back in 2019, however, the Serie A side snapped the centre-back up on a permanent basis for a measly £2.7million the following summer. In the wake of his Europa Conference League triumph, fans questioned United’s decision to let him go given their dire defensive record this season, which saw them concede 57 goals in the Premier League – more than relegated Burnley.
One enraged fan wrote: “@ManUtd said he wasn’t good enough hmmmm… He was the man of the match tonight.” Another added: “See the way Chris Smalling gave his all – body, spirit and soul in this game. Can never be Man Utd defenders.”
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Others took aim at current United captain Harry Maguire in particular, insisting that the Roma defender is far superior to that of the man who set United back £80m in the same summer in which Smalling was initially sent out on loan to the side from the Italian capital. One fan said, “Also @ManUtd you guys need to sign Smalling to replace Maguire cause he’s levels above the fridge.”
Another added: “I tell you what, that Smalling looked good tonight. I reckon Man Utd should go for him, better than that cart horse Maguire.”
Speaking shortly after the full-time whistle, Smalling himself praised the spirit of his Roma side before dedicating the European triumph to the club’s adoring fanbase. He said: “We knew how much it was going to mean to everybody in Rome.
“You can see how together we are. Everybody fought until the end. We’ve had to [fight] on a few occasions this year.
“We dropped a bit deeper than we ideally wanted to, but we knew we had to give everything. You could see strikers running back, everybody fighting and we knew we had to win.
“When I first came to the club, it had been a long time since they had won a trophy – you can hear the fans, you probably can’t even hear me – but we knew how much it was going to mean, you can see we have got some of the best fans.”