Utd must finish second in Premier League, says Smalling

first_img0Shares0000Chris Smalling is setting Manchester United a minimum target finish of second © AFP/File / Oli SCARFFLONDON, United Kingdom, Feb 27 – Chris Smalling says securing the Premier League runners-up spot must be the “bare minimum” for Manchester United, whose win against Chelsea gave them a major confidence boost in the race for Champions League places.United never ended the season lower than third in the Premier League era under Alex Ferguson but have failed to finish higher than fourth since he retired as a champion in 2013 — a side Smalling was part of. “I think obviously we’ve been second for quite a while and that needs to be our bare minimum,” the United defender said.“The fact we get to play Liverpool at home as well I think is a big advantage.“If we can separate ourselves from Chelsea and Liverpool and work our way up then we can do that. But I think that’s our (goal) first and foremost.”United were overtaken by Liverpool on Saturday but regained second spot thanks to Sunday’s 2-1 comeback win against Chelsea.Romelu Lukaku and substitute Jesse Lingard secured an important victory for United, who head to Crystal Palace next Monday before Jurgen Klopp’s Reds arrive at Old Trafford.“I think being able to beat a rival, it’s almost like a six-pointer because of how close we are,” Smalling said of the Chelsea win.“The confidence just breeds (confidence) and we’re ready for the next one. I think considering sort of how close we are in the table, I think it gives them (Chelsea) a massive blow and us a lift.”Manchester City are 13 points clear at the top of the table with a game in hand but only six points separate United in second from Chelsea in fifth, with just four Champions League places up for grabs.“These are huge games and I think the fact we play a lot of our rivals at home is going to be a big factor because of our home form,” said Smalling.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more

‘I tend not to listen to pundits on Match of the Day’ – Steve McClaren hits back at Newcastle legend

first_img1 Newcastle manager Steve McClaren has responded to widespread criticism about his managerial style and the mental state of his players.The Magpies are languishing in the Premier League’s bottom three after 14 games and have conceded eight goals in their last two league games against Leicester and Crystal Palace.Former captain Alan Shearer was withering in his Match of the Day analysis last weekend, suggesting his former club has too many “Monday to Friday” players and bemoaning the lack of an obvious plan.But McClaren responded: “I tend not to listen to pundits on Match of the Day or any other programme. People make me aware [of their comments] and they’re interesting.“I’ve been a pundit myself and it’s a great job. It’s the best job in the world. Football’s about opinions. There are lots of TV and radio programmes. When you’re asked, you have to give an opinion. It’s what you’re paid for.“You respect that opinion from people who have played football at the highest, highest level. I’ve got no criticism of that. But we tend not to focus [on them], though one or two things are very interesting.”The heavy 5-1 defeat at Palace last Saturday led to claims that McClaren’s players were losing interest with some even accused of not trying.However, the former England boss, who will lead his troops into battle with a rejuvenated Liverpool on Sunday, said: “You cross that white line and you play in front of 52,000 people, believe you me, you have got to try.“When you are lacking in confidence and you are lacking in belief, you are not getting results and performances and you are a young player coming into a new situation, or an old one that’s always there, it’s very difficult to turn that around, very difficult.“It looks like, from the outside, they are not trying, they are not running, they are not working. I thought that and we looked at the stats and they are exactly the same. But it looks like they are not trying.“But they are and we see that. We are trying to build it every week and I see it in training, and we need to transfer that confidence that we have and that belief that we have in the week into a Saturday.” Steve McClaren last_img read more