The retired defender named Smalling as one of his top five performers of the season so far and conceded he once doubted the England international had what it takes to become one of United’s first-choice centre-backs.
However, Smalling has been superb this season - arguably the best central defender in the Premier League - and his talismanic performances have silenced his critics.
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“I once doubted whether he could be United’s main defender,” Carragher told the Daily Mail, “but he has proven me wrong.”
Smalling hasn’t missed a single minute in the Premier League for Manchester United so far this season, and it’s no coincidence that the Red Devils have conceded fewer goals - eight in 12 matches - than any other team in the top flight.
Big 12 months for Smalling
It’s all a far cry from 12 months ago, when Smalling’s Manchester United career looked to be in serious doubt following his red card against local rivals City at the Etihad Stadium.
Many United fans wouldn’t have been overly concerned had Smalling been offloaded in the following January, but they must be mightily relieved that Van Gaal stuck by the former Fulham starlet.
Smalling: PL's best player so far?
Carragher also reserved praise for Leicester City’s in-form striker Jamie Vardy, West Ham’s classy midfielder Dimitri Payet, Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil and David Silva of Manchester City.
Of the quintet, it’s surely a toss-up between Vardy and Smalling for the title of stand-out Premier League player so far this season.
Perhaps Vardy shades it after scoring in nine consecutive Premier League matches - a remarkable achievement - but there’s little doubt that Smalling has been United’s best performer this term.
Has Chris Smalling also proved you wrong this season? Have your say by leaving a comment in the box below!