Smalling eager to make amends
Chris Smalling was frustrated Manchester United blew a golden chance to kickstart the Reds' efforts to achieve Jose Mourinho’s target of reaching the Premier League top four by the New Year.
Starting with the Crystal Palace match, United had eight games before the turn of the year to make up ground on rivals in the coveted Champions League berths, with five of those matches on home turf against Arsenal, Fulham, Huddersfield and Bournemouth.
Unfortunately, Saturday's stalemate with Roy Hodgson's side has caused an early setback on the Reds' target of pushing for the upper echelons of the Premier League.
“We knew in the period we had coming up, there were so many home games that three points had to be a must. A point or no points? It might as well have been a loss,” said Smalling.
“Given this run, we can’t afford any more slip-ups at home like this.”
Smalling: It was a missed opportunityVideo
Smalling believes an early opening goal for United would have meant a completely different game against the Londoners, however, as the game progressed, the Reds gave the visitors an opportunity to take something away from the game and lacked a crucial cutting edge when it came to finding the target.
“We were just lacking that first goal and then that unlocks people and it makes them become a bit more open,
“ he said. ”It is just frustrating.
“They had good chance in the first half and then, in the second, we were pushing for the goal and they had another good chance for [Andros] Townsend, but really it shouldn’t have got to that stage because we should have got a goal before then.
“We need to keep working hard as a team, keep creating those chances and finishing them and making sure that the games that we are dominating, we win.”
United had produced one of their trademark comebacks in Turin against Juventus in the Champions League just before the Manchester derby to add to the many late revivals. But, on this occasion, there was no show-stopping finale and Smalling said United should not be reliant on last gasp drama.
“I thought, in the last 10 minutes, there was the added intensity we maybe needed a bit earlier in the game but we can’t always leave it to the last minute and we needed to get that goal earlier,” said Smalling.
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“It will be good to get out in front of this crowd again [on Tuesday against Young Boys in the Champions League] and show a better performance.”