The 24-year-old England international and Red Devils defender came out publicly to praise his teammate Wayne Rooney for his impressive start to the season with the champions.
The 28-year-old England Number 10 has been United’s best performer so far this term after a difficult and somewhat disappointing season last term under Sir Alex Ferguson.
“Wayne is a top player and he trains how he plays,” Smalling said. “What you see on a Saturday afternoon is what we face every day in training.”
“You can see the hunger and passion he has when he plays, and that breeds through the changing room before games, at half-time and at full-time.”
“He’s just a born winner and that has an effect on the whole squad,” Smalling added.
Rooney has scored 8 goals in all competitions for United so far this term and has emerged to become their most creative player after his role as striker changed following the arrival of Golden Boot winner Robin van Persie last year. Adding 8 assists to the team, Rooney’s influence on the pitch has been crucial to the champions’ season so far after a tough start to life for new manager David Moyes, his former mentor at Everton.
However, Smalling also hails his influence in training – David Moyes spoke in recent weeks and months on several occasions of the work ethic Rooney has in order to sustain his conditioning. By all accounts, the England striker has worked his socks off all summer long to regain his optimum fitness and subsequent form for both club and country, amidst the turmoil of a transfer saga that unfolded with Chelsea.
Last season much of the spotlight was on Van Persie whose goals and overall contribution to the team grabbed all the headlines and whose signing from Arsenal was roundly attributed to the Red Devils’ 20th league title win. Rooney’s 12 goals and 10 assists in the Premier League last term were overshadowed not only by the Dutch ace’s arrival at Old Trafford but also by his former tally in 2011/12 of 27 goals in the league along (34 in all competitions) which was only surpassed by Van Persie’s 30 goals for Arsenal that season.
This term the champions have renewed their affection for Wayne Rooney who has, along with Adnan Januzaj, been the star of the show and, in many ways, the saviour of David Moyes’ debut season.
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