Jose Mourinho pleased with Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof’s defensive partnership

by Leo Nieboer

Jose Mourinho has spoken effusively of centre back pairing Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof at Manchester United.

The 55-year-old begun the campaign with Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof but dispensed with the former following a horrific performance at Brighton.

He has used Smalling and Lindelof together for away wins against Burnley, Watford and Young Boys, and the pair have looked comfortable playing alongside each other.

Speaking ahead of the clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers, Mourinho was full of praise for how the pair have improved the team since that Brighton horror show.

“No, I think the team as a team is resolving the defensive problems better than before,” he said.

“I don’t want to say was Bailly or Jones and is now Smalling or Lindelof, I think the team is more compact, more solid, the spirit, the cooperation, the empathy, the communication all of that improve in the team and good results bring confidence and I think we are improving as a team.

“I don’t want to say our improvement has the name of Chris or Victor, the team is playing better and they are part of the team that plays these matches.”

Lindelof certainly looks far more comfortable playing alongside the steeliness of Smalling, who has been an unsung hero of United’s resurgence over the last few weeks.

They compliment each other nicely: Smalling provides an air of seniority and physical presence whereas Lindelof – although his positioning can be better – brings an element of finesse to the back through the way he handles the ball.

With Bailly at the back you got the sense a mistake was not too far away. These two have eradicated that feeling through three very competent defensive performances away from home.

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