Chris Smalling has admitted Manchester United have lost all of their recent momentum with their 1-0 defeat against Southampton on Saturday (23 January). The 26-year-old defender has confessed that the recent feel-good factor created by the club's 1-0 win against eternal rivals Liverpool has already been lost.
United slumped to their sixth league defeat of the season against Ronald Koeman's men. Smalling thinks the Reds were unlucky to have lost the game, and admitted it represents a major setback in their season.
"We started this year very well but this is a setback. I think it has [lost the momentum]," he said, according to MUTV. Despite this, Smalling said United will dust themselves down and prepare for their FA Cup fourth round tie against Derby County on Friday 29 January.
"We can't dwell on this too much. We've got to go again on Friday and the midweek afterwards as well [at home to Stoke City in the league]," he explained. "The players need to pick ourselves up as we're the only ones who can turn this thing around."
Smalling also admitted he can understand the frustration of the fans at Old Trafford, many of whom booed the team off against Southampton. A late goal from Saints debutant Charlie Austin ultimately proved to be the difference between the two sides.
"The fans want to see goals and see us attack. We couldn't break Southampton down, they played a very solid five and we found it very difficult, but we need to learn from this," the United man said.
"Teams are coming here well-organised and Southampton were well-organised, as we were. We both cancelled each other out and it looked like a set-play could be the deciding factor. We were on the end of it but there were few chances."
Despite their woeful recent run, United remain in fifth position in the Premier League, five points behind fourth-placed Tottenham.