It's been quite a few months for Chris Smalling. After being sent off against Manchester City last November, a dismissal that his manager branded "stupid" and everybody else branded "really, really stupid", he's buckled down, followed instructions, improved his game and established himself as the most reliable defender at the club. And his reward? A shiny new four-year contract.
Manchester United (@ManUtd) April 21, 2015
As is traditional, Smalling told the club website that he was very pleased ...
I'm delighted to sign my new contract. I am so proud to play for such a great club. We have developed as a team over the course of the season under Louis van Gaal and we are now playing as a complete unit. This is a very exciting time to be at Manchester United, we are all determined to get back to where we belong and competing at the highest level.
... and so did Louis van Gaal:
Chris has improved and developed immensely during the short time that I have been at the club and has become an integral part of the first-team squad. He always conducts himself in a very professional manner and it is also pleasing that he has scored some important goals this season too. I am delighted he has signed a new contract.
So that's Smalling signed up, along with Paddy McNair, Tyler Blackett, Marcos Rojo and, so we're assured by the rumourmongers and their mill, somebody like Mats Hummels. Nervous times for Phil Jones and Jonny Evans.