Smalling was 'surprised and excited' to be reunited with Mourinho

Chris Smalling was ‘surprised and excited’ to be reunited with ‘born winner’ Jose Mourinho at Roma and insists there are no issues with manager after uneasy relationship at Manchester United

  • Chris Smalling has played down talks of uneasy relationship with Jose Mourinho
  • The defender has been reunited with Mourinho after time at Manchester United
  • The Portuguese manager has publicly criticised the 31-year-old in the past
  • But Smalling says he was ‘surprised’ but ‘excited’ to see Mourinho join Roma 

Roma defender Chris Smalling has admitted he was ‘surprised and excited’ at the appointment of ‘born-winner’ Jose Mourinho as manager and insisted there is no problem between the pair.

Mourinho has replaced Paulo Foncesca in the Italian capital after he was sacked by Tottenham in April, which sees him reunited with Smalling after spending two-and-a-half years together at Manchester United.

There has been much focus on a strained relationship between the pair after a number of disputes including when Mourinho publicly criticised the defender for not playing through pain in 2016, insisting at the time: ‘For the team, you have to do anything.’

Chris Smalling (left) insists he was ‘surprised and excited’ by Jose Mourinho’s Roma arrival

But the 31-year-old has acted to quickly to quell any talks of unrest between the pair, playing down the previous comments about him and insisting he is ‘excited’ to be working with the Portuguese manager again.

When asked about the comments, Smalling told BBC Sport: ‘Ultimately, if the manager wasn’t speaking about you and didn’t want you to play and push, that is when you need to worry because he has stopped caring about you, he doesn’t want you involved and he doesn’t want you to play,’ said the centre-back.

‘I knew the media would build up something about our relationship in the past. But from a personal point of view, it is a good thing because I have played under him. 

The pair spent two-and-a-half years together at Manchester United amid uneasy relationship

The 58-year-old’s appointment as manager of the Serie A side came as a surprise to many after it was confirmed barely two weeks after his Spurs dismissal, and Smalling admitted that surprise extended to the playing squad.

‘It was quite a surprise to a lot of us, but there was initial excitement from everyone,’ the centre-back added, ‘He is a born winner. He likes to push everyone to the limits. That is what he has done throughout his career and it has reaped results.’ 

‘We have won trophies together. He made me captain in one of those finals – the 2017 EFL Cup final – as well, so having the chance to play under someone who you know is good, has been so successful and is so determined to win trophies at all costs is a positive.

But Smalling played down talks of issue and says it is a ‘good thing’ the manager knows him

‘I know how big a deal it would be to bring a trophy of some sort to the club. Jose’s history shows the club has picked the perfect man to do that.’

Smalling is preparing for his third season in Italy after impressing since making the switch from United in 2019 on an initial loan basis.

He has been linked with a move away from the Stadio Olimpico following Mourinho’s arrival, but touted suitors Everton aren’t understood to be interested. 

The former England international featured in Mourinho’s first game in charge of Roma as he got off to a flying start by scoring 10 goals against Tuscans Montecatini in a pre-season friendly.

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