Chris Smalling hits back at Jose Mourinho criticism after former Man Utd boss sacked by Roma

Chris Smalling worked with Jose Mourinho at Man Utd and Roma before the manager's exit on Tuesday.

Former Manchester United defender Chris Smalling has opened up on 'some of the most frustrating' times of his career after being criticised by Jose Mourinho for his supposed inability to play through pain.

Smalling was the subject of a scathing attack by Mourinho in November, with the Portuguese manager suggesting his defender 'holds something back' and can't play through pain amid an ongoing injury issue. The 34-year-old has not played since the start of September due to a persistent knee injury. After overseeing a dismal first-half of the campaign in which Roma lost seven times in Serie A, leaving them ninth, Mourinho was sacked on Tuesday. And Smalling, who also worked under the former United boss at Old Trafford, took to social media to give his account of recent issues.

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“Since signing for AS Roma in 2019, my commitment and loyalty to the club has never wavered,” Smalling wrote on Instagram. “The minute I stepped foot in Roma, I instantly felt at home. Roma is my home, and the relationship I have built with AS Roma fans is something I cherish dearly.

“For that reason I wanted to jump on here to address some of the rumours that I have seen circulating over recent months. Let me start by clarifying that I have never asked to, nor even contemplated, leaving this great club. Speaking openly, the last few months have proved to be some of the most frustrating of my career. There are things in this game and in life that we can control, and others we simply can't. This injury has been one thing that we couldn't.

“No footballer wants to spend their days in a treatment room, and this period of time away from my teammates has challenged me, with setback after setback. I have, and will always, put the needs of my team-mates first, but the absolute priority for the medical team is to guarantee that I can play a significant role in the latter part of the season and for seasons to come.”

Smalling has enjoyed an excellent few years at Roma since leaving United on loan in 2019. The Serie A outfit ended up making the move permanent the following year in a deal worth £18.1m at the time. The 31-capped England international has played 146 times for Roma, a number only bettered by his 323 over a nine-year spell in Manchester.