Smalling happy with derby debut

The 21-year-old performed superbly as Rio Ferdinand’s replacement

in the Manchester United defence. Matchwinning hero Wayne Rooney

claimed Smalling deserved the man-of-the-match prize for the manner

in which he subdued Carlos Tevez and Sir Alex Ferguson also heaped

praise on the youngster afterwards. It was a marvellous feat

considering he was making only his fourth Premier League start

since a £7million summer move from Fulham. And he loved every

minute. “I knew I was going to be playing earlier in the week so I

had a lot of time to prepare,” he said. “People have been telling

me just what a massive game this is. “Once I got my first touch it

was a case of enjoying it and playing like any other game. “It was

a great occasion and I really enjoyed myself. To win it and play my

part is a real joy.” Considering he was at Maidstone three years

ago, Smalling has grown up pretty quickly. And the Londoner is

starting to get used to the demands of being a United player. “We

all saw the table before the game and knew how crucial this game

was,” he said. “It had been emphasised to us all week, every time

we stepped on the training field. “In the end, we got our just

desserts. Their goal was pretty jammy and it would have been a

travesty if they had taken anything out of that game.” That

Manchester City did not collect a point from their Old Trafford

visit was down to the magnificence of Rooney’s overhead kick, a

goal Smalling is happy to watch over and over. “We saw it on TV in

the dressing room,” he said. “It has come right out of the middle

of his foot and flew into the top corner. There is no better way to

win the game. Wazza worked tirelessly all game. It was a fabulous

occasion.”