Manchester United defender Chris Smalling has said he is enjoying being part of a back three during the pre-season games for the club as Louis van Gaal implements a different system on the team during the infancy of his managerial reign at the club.
Smalling, who has been used at right-back in the past under both Sir Alex Ferguson and David Moyes as well as in his preferred centre-back role, seems to be enjoying playing as part of a back three rather than the conventional back four used in the past.
He's quoted by the Manchester United website, saying: "I am enjoying it in terms of being a centre-half. It gives us that freedom to go all the way in with a striker and really be dominant and aggressive, and I like to think that fits my game. This system has given me a lot of confidence to be able to fit in and hopefully make it my place.
"When we're attacking it can be a three and at other times it can be a five. There's always one pressing so you've got four covering and it does interchange. There's a lot of communication and we're doing a lot of work [in training] so that we're perfect in our roles.
"This formation means that when you go all the way in with an opponent, you can be stepping into midfield or picking someone up in a wide position. That flexibility is something you need to be able to play this system."
The system seems to have had some success so far as this pre-season has shown a United side well organised, controlling games and playing with a bit of a swagger as van Gaal tries to deploy a system that gets the best out of all of his men.
There has been a lot of talk surrounding Manchester United's defensive personnel ahead of the new season. Having lost Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, it left a bit of a void in the United side despite Smalling, Jonny Evans and Phil Jones remaining at Old Trafford.
Arsenal's Thomas Vermalen has been strongly linked with a move to the club as has Ajax's Daley Blind and Borussia Dortmund's Mats Hummels.
It would appear that Smalling fancies nailing down a regular starting spot this season, and will hope he is given a consistent run of games when the season gets underway in order to show van Gaal what kind of performances he can produce.