Chris Smalling endured his toughest afternoon in a Manchester United shirt when he was sent off shortly before half-time in the Manchester derby.
After picking up an unnecessary booking for blocking Joe Hart’s goal kick, the defender picked up a second yellow for a foul which changed the game for both teams.
The ensuing reshuffle saw the lively Adnan Januzaj sacrificed for the returning Michael Carrick, Marouane Fellaini dropped deeper despite finding plenty of room in behind Manchester City’s defence and suddenly the course of the game changed.
Louis van Gaal‘s side had matched their rivals for much of the first half but it was a different story after half-time an Smalling’s red card didn’t go down well with the Manchester United support.
I’ve always maintained that Smalling always has a silly mistake in him per game. Didn’t really make one last week so made up for it today.
— Tom Coast (@thcoast) November 2, 2014
Dreadful from Smalling. What was he thinking?
— Sam Rourke (@samrourke_) November 2, 2014
That was a quality performance by United. Nothing to be ashamed of. Only one man to blame for that result. Mr Smalling
— Jonny (@jonnyescott) November 2, 2014
Smalling’s red card means he’ll miss Manchester United’s home game against Crystal Palace next week and with Marcos Rojo suffering a dislocated shoulder in the second half, the club’s injury crisis at the back is beginning to worsen once again.
But for now the only pain felt is that of ‘what if?’ United had been well in with a chance of winning a derby match and showed even with ten men they were capable of taking the game to the champions but Smalling’s red card made it an uphill struggle.