@Txrt Thank you for the thoughtful response. There's nothing wrong with me bringing up our other CBs for comparisons sake is there? Smalling has been a bigger asset to the club than his fellow CBs lately by virtue of his availability and our defensive record this season has been good. We've also seen a marked improvement in our attack so I don't see how our defense has majorly hindered us upfront this season. IMO there's an overemphasis on Smalling's weaknesses and his overall contribution that only seem to come up when he has a bad game or when he becomes a scapegoat after a bad result like the game against Leicester. He's been our most consistent defender so far this season and while he hasn't been standout he's been more than solid. I don't think you can argue much with that assertion. How badly has Smalling fared in the games against the big teams? You say his mistakes come out against them but can you name one this season? He's played against Liverpool (0-0), Chelsea (1-0 loss), Spurs (1-0 win), City ( 1-2) and Arsenal (1-3). I don't recall any glaring mistakes in those games. I do remember Jones having a stinker against Chelsea and being subbed in the 62nd for Fellaini and I remember Rojo being hauled off at halftime against City for Lindelof while Smalling played 90 mins in each of those games.
Our EL campaign in the knockout rounds from the last 16 and on-wards was mostly approached the way we approached the final against Ajax. United were massive favorites to win the damn thing but we hardly ever looked it on the pitch. Almost blew it away in the quarter finals against Anderlecht and the semis against Celta Vigo. Bailly and Rojo featured way more prominently in the entire EL campaign, up until the final itself. The approach to the final was merely a continuation of Mourinho's pragmatism but you seem to infer that our only natural defender playing had something to do with it.
Do you really think Mourinho was entirely making up numbers to compensate for poor defending or just using a formation he thought suited us better in certain games? A proactive approach to the opposition if you will. Maybe it was both? Conte did this last season as well, or maybe you can argue that they had David Luiz. If Mourinho feels the need to improve our central defense he'll make the necessary purchases and i'll get behind having more quality in that part of the pitch. I was all for the Lindelof purchase and I think he's shown vast improvements in his last few showings. The defenders you mentioned are overall better than Smalling, but Smalling is here and Mourinho is playing him. He's not holding us back, we have bigger issues than that IMO.