By 90Min
February 15, 2018

Chris Smalling should be braced for further mocking by football fans after he took tactical advice from Manchester United teammate Anthony Martial.

The Manchester Evening News revealed that the France international spoke to the centre-back ahead of Sunday's shock 1-0 loss to Newcastle United and instructed Smalling to 'push up and close the space' to stifle the Magpies' attack.

It's unclear if Martial was merely passing on match plans from manager Jose Mourinho or whether he was telling Smalling how to play, though United fans will point towards the former.

Mark Runnacles/GettyImages

Other football fans will, however, see it as an attacker instructing an international defender how to perform on the field - comments and footage that will no doubt see the 28-year-old become the butt of further jokes about his calamitous display in the north east.

Smalling was ridiculed for the embarrassing nature of his dive in an attempt to win a free kick last weekend, but was cautioned by the referee for trying to con him into giving the set piece the other way.

It proved to be a fatal error on Smalling's part as, from the resultant free kick, Matt Ritchie fired home the only goal of the game to secure a massive three points for Rafael Benitez's men.

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Smalling's performance immediately led to tabloid stories of Mourinho finally giving up hope of ever being able to turn him into a superb centre-half amid plans to put the ex-Fulham star on the transfer list.

Smalling will hope to put his poor display to bed as soon as possible and retain his place in the starting lineup for fear he may miss out on a place in England's squad for this summer's World Cup.

Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate is likely to take John Stones, Gary Cahill and one of Harry Maguire or Michael Keane to Russia in June, but Smalling could miss out if he isn't playing regularly for the Red Devils before then.

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