Manchester United’s goalkeeper covered a multitude of sins when digging out various defensive incarnations deployed by Louis van Gaal this season.
But whether or not David De Gea is around to offer such impenetrable protection in 2015/16, attentions turn to the future make-up of the Red Devils rearguard with Chris Smalling laying down the gauntlet to LVG early.
Alongside his versatile England colleague, Phil Jones, arguably United’s most impressive centre-half this season believes the pairing have staked a decent claim as the first-choice Old Trafford partnership in the heart of defence.
“We have proven we can fill the gap,” said Smalling. “When you consider the outgoings at centre-back, players had to step in and luckily I’ve been one of those who has had a good run, especially in the second half of the season.
“It’s one where it just builds over time and we’ve had our chance this season and now it is all about building on that next season.”
With media outlets up and down the land constantly linking United with Europe’s most-coveted centre-backs, however, does this potential pairing hold enough sex appeal to Red Devils supporters?
The below graphic shows the English duo have done pretty well when starting games together either as part of a back three or more latterly a conventional partnership in a four.
These relatively long-serving United players certainly know each other’s games inside out by now and communication between them is only aided by their time together with England.
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