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Smalling | “Serie A provides different challenges for defenders”

Former Manchester United defender Chris Smalling revealed he is adjusting well to life in Italy with Roma, and is finding that the challenges faced are different to the Premier League.

“I would never dismiss any ideas, going abroad or not, but I think it was more about the club – in terms of their ambitions and their goals for the season and if that sits in line with what I want,” the former Manchester United man told the AS Roma official website.

“After I spoke with the manager about how he wants to play and how he saw me fitting in, that was what I needed. And then I think the fact it was abroad, in a country and a city that is so well spoken about and with a club that is so well-supported, well that was a major bonus, to be able to play and experience a new culture.”

“Obviously I missed the first couple of games, but being able to stay fit now and hopefully – touch wood – for the rest of the season means I’ve been able to have an influence on the pitch, and that definitely helps the transition, in terms of getting to know my teammates and how we want to work, and just getting friendly with them as well.

“Now my family is out here and we are moving into a house as well, so it’s nice to have all that sorted too. All the pieces off the pitch are coming together too, so fingers crossed it just keeps getting better and better.”

“In terms of the facilities and the schedules it is not too dissimilar to England. Like at United, here we are playing every few days so training in the week is more tactical and about recovery, rather than long training sessions.

“But in terms of the games, especially watching more Serie A since I’ve been here and studying the opposition, I think compared to England you have a lot more teams who are playing with two central forwards, who are causing you a lot more problems.

“In England quite often you have to deal with just one striker, so you’ve got your other central defender covering you – whereas often here you can be left two-on-two a lot of the time. There’s a lot more runs in behind being made too. So it’s definitely new challenges, which I’m enjoying – because I quite like a tussle and a sprint against the striker. It definitely suits my game.

“I find it’s been brilliant [with Coach Paulo Fonseca]. In terms of our first conversation, I spoke to him on the phone from Manchester and he was just explaining the type of defender he wants, how he saw my attributes and how he wanted me to play within his team. And that gave me a real sense of things, and as soon as I was off the phone it was a case of, ‘Let’s make this happen’. And since then it has been great to work with him.

“How he wants us to play, aggressive on the front foot, are all things I think fit with my game – and they’ve been very encouraging in terms of showing us clips of what they want us to work on and how we can improve, so I still feel like I’m learning each day. So it’s clicking quite well.”

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