Manchester United defender Chris Smalling admits clean sheets are the key to turning around their stuttering start to the season.
Jose Mourinho’s side conceded seven goals in their opening three matches before registering their first shut-out in the 2-0 win at Burnley at the weekend.
At the same stage last season United had three clean sheets and just two goals against on their way to finishing second, with clean sheets in half their league matches.
“Last season we picked up a lot of clean sheets and this year we’ve conceded early goals,” Smalling told MUTV.
“We need to get back what we’ve done in the last few seasons when we’ve conceded very few goals, like on Sunday.
“It was down to us players to stand up tall and get a result, and we’re very happy with the win.
“With us not having a game in the week, we’d been able to work on a lot of patterns of play and you could see them coming out and finishing with the goals, so we were happy with that.”
Manchester United legend Peter Schmeichel says it will be great for Old Trafford to witness another Cristiano Ronaldo return after the club were drawn alongside Juventus for the Champions League group stage.
Ronaldo left the club in 2009, but has been back once before, in 2013 with Real Madrid – then managed by current United manager Jose Mourinho – for a Round of 16 tie. He scored in both legs as Madrid knocked out United thanks to a 2-1 win in Manchester, after the first leg had ended 1-1.
“It’s incredible,” said Schmeichel of Ronaldo’s impending return.
“Ronaldo was back at Old Trafford with Real Madrid. That didn’t go too well for Manchester United.
“Hopefully it will be a different story next time, but it’s great to see him back.”
The club have reportedly delayed offering the midfielder a new contract, with his current one set to expire next summer – which means he is free to negotiate with European clubs in the January window.
Herrera has previously stated his desire to stay at Old Trafford, where he is a fan favourite, but the club’s inaction over a new contract has allegedly left him disappointed.
It’s not clear whether the club are having doubts over whether to offer the Spaniard a new contract at all, or if they are simply biding their time.