Smalling: The fixtures I always look out for
Manchester United defender Chris Smalling is already looking forward to another season at Old Trafford, his 10th as a Red.
We spoke to our no.12 last month about his aspirations for the new campaign, and found out which opponents he'll be looking for when the 2019/20 Premier League fixtures are released...
Are you already excited for the challenge of next season?
“Yes, very much so. I think we know we had, sort of, two halves to our season last season, so to be able to hit the ground running from August and to have a whole sustained season – I think that’s what we’re most looking forward to and showing what we can do over the course of all those games.”
What do you look for first in the fixture list?
“Derbies, because quite often I’ll have a lot of mates already asking me for tickets. So yes, the [Manchester] derbies, Liverpool [games] as well and also Chelsea because when I was at Fulham, they were a club that I never liked to see winning. So those are the three fixtures that I look out for.”
“I think when I’m starting to do my running, that’s when I feel like I want to be back on the training ground, putting my kit on and just getting ready for the season as soon as possible. Nobody enjoys doing endless running when there’s not a game at the end of the week – that’s what it’s about.”
Which game do you most look forward to?
“Man City at home, I think. I’ve been blessed to play in a lot of those fixtures and all week [beforehand] they are built up. Usually both teams are fighting for something so it’s often a six-pointer and [there are] bragging rights as well. It’s one fixture you can’t miss.”
“I think excitement. You’ve obviously not seen a lot of the lads for most of the summer, you might have seen one or two depending on if you’ve had international games or seen them on holiday or something. But quite often it’s just everyone getting back together, catching up and obviously everybody doing different testing but, in between testing, I think you’re catching up, seeing what they’ve got up to over the last four or five weeks. I think there’s that real energy to be able to enjoy everyone’s company again and go again.”
How do you feel about the winter break next season?
“I think it’s a good thing, we’re obviously the only country that doesn’t have [one already]. I think ultimately as a team and as a league, the months of April and May are the season-defining months so, if you’re able to have a little break a couple of months before then, I think it’s going to pay dividends for sure.”
What do we need to improve on next season?
“I think consistency. Obviously since Ole has come in, our consistency has definitely gone up but I think we know there’s a lot to work on. With Ole and the coaching staff, we’ll have a full pre-season working on a lot of things. Hopefully come pre-season, we can show what we’re really made of through the whole course of the season and be a lot more consistent because ultimately if you want to be top of that league you need that consistency in every game. You can’t have two or three games where you let your level drop.”
What is your message to the United fans ahead of the new season?
“I think my message would be to keep supporting us. It never goes unnoticed. When we’re winning or losing, when we’re doing warm-ups or even when I’m walking down the street, there are United fans talking to me. I think that’s something we all love. You can definitely bet on it that we’re going to be giving everything in pre-season and making sure that next season is one to remember for all the right reasons.”
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