Chris Smalling is hoping Manchester United can build on their positive start to the new year following Saturday’s 2-1 win over Swansea City.
Following a winless December, the result was United’s first victory in nine games and Louis van Gaal’s first win over the South Wales side in four attempts as manager.
United’s decline at the end of 2015 has seen the Red Devils drop out of the Champions League places, but Smalling is confident his side can build on the win and challenge for the title in the second-half of the season.
“December was a poor month and it’s a great feeling to get that win,” said the defender.
“In Monday’s draw [against Chelsea], that was a game where we had to dig in and we didn’t quite get what we wanted.
“In the second half today we played far better, dominated more of the game and really kicked on and showed that grit and desire that we’ve got to show in games.
“We’ve dropped far too many points for our liking. Luckily, this league is so up in the air it’s everything to play for.
“If we can get on a consistent run now then we can start looking up that table.”
After a goalless first half, man-of-the-match Anthony Martial broke the deadlock shortly after the interval with a powering downward header which flew past Lukasz Fabianski.
Gylfi Sigurdsson’s looped header levelled the scores with 20 minutes remaining before Wayne Rooney scored United’s second goal with an instinctive back-heel to give the home side all three points.
United have come under scrutiny for a lack of creativity and chances in the final third this season but Smalling says he was impressed with the performances from United’s front men.
“They were two well-worked goals and to see your two strikers get on the score sheet is good,” he said.
“Hopefully with the number of chances we’ve created today, and in our previous games as well, it’s only time before the goals will start coming and, fingers crossed, they’ll come now.
“It was a good start to the year and we can’t afford any more slip-ups now, so we need to make sure we keep playing like this.”
United remain fifth in the Premier League table and nine points adrift of Arsenal at the top.
Image courtesy of The FA Cup via YouTube, with thanks.