'We understand each other with our eyes' – Mancini opens up on partnership with Smalling

Roma’s Gianluca Mancini has talked up his blossoming defensive partnership with fellow loanee Chris Smalling, with the young Italian full of praise for the Manchester United man’s ability to maintain 100 per cent focus throughout matches.

Smalling opted to make a summer switch to the Italian capital over the summer at a time when questions had been raised over whether the Red Devils’ crop of defenders were good enough to help Ole Gunnar Solskjaer return the club to its former glory.

The England international’s move has resulted in a notable upturn in form on a personal level, however, with many now questioning the decision to let the centre-back leave while the likes of the unfancied Phil Jones remain in Solskjaer’s squad.

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Two Serie A goals, one assist and numerous clean sheets racked up alongside Mancini has rightfully drawn praise from many and the Italian was questioned by Roma’s official channel as to why the pair work so well together.

“There’s a lot of reasons,” Mancini began. “Chris doesn’t speak Italian, although he is learning. It’s something that’s difficult to explain, sometimes we understand each other with a look.

“In football terms, I can speak a little English but he knows how to say a few things in Italian – if a man is coming over, if we need to move to the left or to the right. We understand each other with our eyes.

“He is someone who always gives everything though and that’s what I love about him. In that regard I still need to improve a lot, even if I’m still young.”

“He is always locked in. For 90 minutes and beyond he’s 100 per cent focused. That helps me as well with the little slips I can make,” Mancini added on Smalling’s effect on others.

“But we all have a great rapport. It’s not just about Mancini and Smalling. Federico Fazio – he’s called ‘Il Comandante’ (‘The Commander’) and he really is exactly that.

“Even if he hasn’t played so much, in training if there’s something he’s seen or some advice he has he will always pass it on. That’s the spirit we have among all the defenders. 

“We follow the coach’s instructions. He decides who goes out there on matchday, but everyone knows exactly what they have to do and that’s really important.”

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