Smalling happy at United start
Youngster feeling at home at Old Trafford
Last Updated: February 3, 2011 7:41pm
Smalling: Feeling happy
Manchester United defender Chris Smalling is happy at how he has settled into life at Old Trafford.
The 21-year-old was signed by Sir Alex Ferguson in a surprising £10million transfer from Fulham one year ago, and the player moved to the North-West last summer.
Smalling had made just 19 appearances for the Cottagers after they plucked him from non-league club Maidstone in 2008, but the Scot saw enough from the tall centre-back to persuade him to pay such a substantial amount.
The stopper has shown maturity in his role and managed to gain a place in England's under-21 squad, as well as overtaking Jonny Evans in the pecking order at United as deputy to first-choice pair Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand.
"A lot of the young lads have been here for a long time," he said.
"I only came here in the summer and I wasn't at Fulham for too long, so I have surprised myself how settled I have become.
"Manchester is quite different to London. It is a bit more chilled out up here and I only live five minutes from the training ground, so everything is nice and easy.
"A lot of my family come up quite often too, so on a personal level I feel really at ease.
"And the more games I play in, the more I feel like I belong here. I really feel good at the moment."
Smalling has appeared 16 times for the club so far this season, including three consecutive games in January, two of which saw him partner Vidic, who has been in outstanding form for the Red Devils this term.
"Vidic has had the biggest impact this season on us," said Smalling.
"That is why we have been so solid at the back so to have the chance to play with him is a massive boost for me.
"He is one of the world's best central defenders so to get the chance to learn my trade next to him is invaluable.
"He is always talking to me, which makes my job a lot easier when I step into the team.
"His partnership with Rio Ferdinand is something I admired from afar so that chance to train with them each day and interact with them allows me to pick up bits and pieces of information, which is a real bonus."
"It is a big step for me. I am still improving but am trying to learn from all those experiences and kick on."