The Mexican striker has all the attributes for cult heroism – he gives his absolute all, would do anything for the team, has bags of character, talks as quickly as he runs (almost comically quick), always smiles… oh, and he scores goals for fun. But while Javier Hernandez has been capturing headlines, hearts and minds, fellow summer recruit Chris Smalling has been going about establishing himself, under the radar, as arguably the finest young defender in England.
His performance against Rangers at Ibrox on Wednesday epitomised his qualitities; he has undoubted talent, and he is undeterred by the big stages. Ibrox can be an intimidating atmosphere, but Smalling dealt with the challenge admirably.
He was plucked from non-league obscurity by Fulham, and even when it was made public in early 2010 that United had signed him, there were raised eyebrows from some wondering whether this might have been just a step too far for the inexperienced youngster. But he is now well-accustomed to making giant leaps, and he has taken this latest jump up in