Manchester United's Chris Smalling explains what's contributing to solid start to the season

Chris Smalling has been part of a pretty stern Manchester United defence at the start of this season.

Manchester United centre-back Chris Smalling has suggested that a settled back line has helped the side get off to a good start this season. 

United have won their opening two Premier League games 1-0 and last night took a huge step to qualifying for the group stages of the Champions League with a 3-1 win over Club Brugge at Old Trafford.

Smalling told MUTV after last night's win over the Belgian side: “Last season, there were that many changes, it was hard to get a good run – even though I still don’t think we conceded that many goals in the second half of the season.

“But that togetherness and that work ethic is showing on the pitch now because we are not letting that many chances in.”

There has been a lot said about where United should strengthen, and there have been calls for the side to sign a new centre-back, with Daley Blind currently partnering Smalling at the heart of the United defence. But so far it seems to be working with two clean sheets in their opening Premier League game, and only a freak own goal breaching their resistance last night. Smalling himself has been receiving a lot of praise from former professionals and pundits for his start to the season. 

Also, the early stages of Matteo Darmian's United career look very promising as he has put in some solid performances on the right flank, while Luke Shaw is showing why the club were prepared to part with a vast sum to Southampton for his services at such a young age. 

On Darmian, Smalling said: “He is terrific; in any one-v-one situation he backs himself and he gets forward as well with some useful crosses.”

It's not just the defensive unit that seems to be impressing, but the shield they have in front of them in midfield means that Untied look very hard to break down at the moment, which could serve them well both at home and in Europe. 

Given how settled and effective the back line is at the moment, it will be interesting to see if Louis van Gaal feels the need to go out and buy another defender before the transfer window shuts at the end of the month. 

Register for MANCHESTER UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch