Roy Hodgson has joked that he is doing Manchester United a favour by letting Chris Smalling get his mistakes out of the way for Fulham.
Smalling will move to Old Trafford at the end of the season after a deal was agreed between the clubs back in January.
The 20-year-old defender earned plaudits for his performances during the first half of the campaign and is regarded as an exciting prospect for the future.
However, the announcement that he will soon join United has resulted in increased scrutiny and every error is now being highlighted.
Smalling endured a torrid afternoon on Saturday as Fulham went down 2-0 to Hull City but Hodgson is still backing him to be a success for United.
And Hodgson believes Sir Alex Ferguson should be thankful that Smalling is being allowed to continue his development at Fulham.
"Had he not been signed by United then the criticism would be quite different. But now all eyes are on him," Hodgson said in The Sun.
"He'll cope with the pressure of playing at Old Trafford. I'm doing Alex a favour, letting him get his mistakes out of the way at Fulham."