Man Utd defender Smalling keen to repay Van Gaal faith

Manchester United defender Chris Smalling says he wants to repay Louis van Gaal for giving him consistent playing time throughout the season.

Smalling has made more than 50 appearances for Van Gaal’s side this season and has been the club captain when Wayne Rooney and Daley Blind have not been available.

The center-back was awarded the Manchester United players’ player of the season award on Monday night.

And Smalling said he’s hoping to keep putting in consistent performances to pay back the faith shown in him by Van Gaal.

"It’s just about repaying him really," he told Sky Sports.

"He puts a lot of responsibility on the players and he gives us our tactical knowledge along with the other coaches, but it’s that trust to know you’re going to be playing and he’s going to put that faith in you."

Smalling also feels that Van Gaal has done well to deflect pressure away from the players throughout the season.

"He puts himself forward and takes some of the pressure off us," he explained.

"There’s pressure on us as well, but he’s very good at deflecting it because he knows we need to perform on game day."

On the subject of pressure, Smalling says he’s happy to take on the weight of expectation that comes with being Manchester United captain when given the opportunity.

"I thrive on it and I like it," he said.

"Even when you’ve not got the captain’s armband, there’s that many eyes on you, at Manchester United you have to perform.

"When you have that [responsibility] as well, it’s also the players that look to you in [tough] moments. It makes you back yourself and make sure you put in a great performance because you’ve got added responsibility of the armband."