Cleverley returns for Baggies clash



Midfielder Tom Cleverley returns to Sir Alex Ferguson’s starting squad for Sunday’s clash with West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford. The 22-year-old has missed most of the campaign with an injury to his left ankle, although the latest knock, which kept the midfielder out of matches against Norwich City, Tottenham Hotspur and Athletic Bilbao, was to the right. But Cleverley’s return for the clash with Roy Hodgson’s Midlanders offers Ferguson additional options as Manchester United looks to bounce back from European defeat on Thursday night.

The 3-2 home loss to Athletic  came amid the backdrop of some truly calamitous defending – a scenario that Ferguson knows his side must not repeat against in-form West Brom at Old Trafford. Hodgson’s side has won three on the spin, including a victory over Chelsea last weekend, and a thumping 5-1 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Indeed, Ferguson must balance the need to select a strong side against Athletic in Bilbao on Thursday, if United is to progress in the Europa League, with the challenge of maintaining the domestic pursuit of Manchester City.

“We’ve got to recover from the Bilbao defeat,” said the United manager.

“At this moment we are finding it difficult to balance the two together, playing Thursday-Sunday. We are ­finding it more difficult than we thought. We are finding it more difficult than playing Wednesday-Saturday in the Champions League. We don’t know why it is, but it seems that way. We are not used to it, ­obviously, and to marry the two together we need a big squad of players.

“It definitely looks like the title is a two-horse race and I don’t think either of us is going to drop a lot of points, but points will be dropped and if we were to drop points it would be crucial – for either team.

“The players know the challenge is there and we have a great opportunity to kick on after the great result at Spurs and hopefully we’ll manage to do that.”

Cleverley is unlikely to start, with Paul Scholes set to return alongside Michael Carrick in central midfield, but Ferguson will be delighted with the youngster’s latest comeback. Cleverley started the season brightly before injury struck in September. Should Anderson suffer no ill reaction to half an hour against Athletic on Thursday, the Brazilian could also make the bench.

Meanwhile, in attack Danny Welbeck is likely to come back into Ferguson’s side for Javier Hernández, with the Mexican starting the defeat to Athletic. Most surprisingly,
French youngster Paul Pogba is set to return to Ferguson’s squad after being left out in recent weeks – it will fuel new speculation that the 18-year-old has signed a contract with the club, despite strong rumours he had agreed a summer move to Juventus.

“I think Tom will be involved. Obviously the problem when you have players out for such a long time is when you can get them back into the fray. For instance, Ando played for half an hour and it was a good half-hour for him as he’d not played for two months. We’ll have to look at that issue. I imagine he’ll be doubtful for Sunday.

“I’ll make one or two changes. Scholes is available and so are Nani and Rio Ferdinand to get the freshness back in. I will maybe gamble with a couple on Sunday for Thursday’s game. West Brom are in a bit of form. But we’re at home and we’re expected to win our games at home and hopefully we can put [Thursday's] result behind us.”

Manchester United versus West Bromwich Albion, Premier League, Old Trafford, 11 March 2012, 2pm.Defeat to Athletic was the most calamitous of an awful European season for United. In five home matches United has won just once, and that came against Romainian side Oţelul Galaţi. Poor form at home has cost United points domestically too, with Blackburn Rovers and City beating the Reds at Old Trafford already this season.

This points to a difficult fixture for Ferguson’s side, with West Brom excelling on the road this season – only City and United has a better away record than the Midlands outfit in the current campaign.

Meanwhile, Carrick, who has been in superb form since returning to the side in November, says that United must now focus if the Reds’ are to claim a 20th domestic title in May.

“Just because we have come through a tough two months doesn’t mean we will sail through the next two nicely,” Carrick told Sky Sports.

“We are not getting carried away and we are not taking anything for granted. We know how quickly it can come back and bite us. Since I have been here, we have always been up against someone, whether that is two teams or three. With it being City and so local, it does develop into something different. At the same time it is about winning games and focusing on ourselves.”

The visitors arrive in fine form and captain Chris Brunt could make a first start for the Baggies in two months after recovering from a broken foot. Billy Jones should be fit to start at right-back, but Jerome Thomas is struggling with a hamstring injury and is set to miss out.

Manager Hodgson praised his side for winning three in a row, but has challenged the Midlanders to come up with a ‘coming of age’ result in Manchester. As Ajax, Athletic, Blackburn and City have found out this season, Old Trafford is no longer the fortress it once was.

“We all understand how difficult three straight wins in the Barclays Premier League is,” said the former Liverpool manager.

“When you get that situation you really have to enjoy it and be very happy about it – but at the same time make sure it doesn’t lead to any complacency. There is no good winning three in a row if you then lose three in a row. We need to try and keep those points coming in.

“It’s going to be a very tough ask at Old Trafford, as it is for any club going there. But at least we go there with some wind in our sails. If you can back a good result up with another very good result against a top team, it would be a sort of coming of age result for us.”

Defeat is a result United supporters, players and managers cannot countenance. With just 11 fixtures remaining in the Premier League, and United two points adrift of City in the title race, there is now little room for error. History is on United’s side though – West Brom has never beaten the Reds in the Premier League, and not secured a victory over Manchester’s finest since a 2-0 home win in March 1984.

Ferguson and players will know this is no time to change that pattern of results.

Match details
Manchester United versus West Bromwich Albion, Premier League, Old Trafford, 11 March 2012, 2pm.

Potential Line-ups
United (4-4-1-1): de Gea; Jones, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Nani, Scholes, Carrick, Young; Rooney; Welbeck. Subs from: Amos, Rafael, Fabio, Smalling, Giggs, Park, Anderson, Cleverley, Pogba, Hernández, Berbatov, Owen.

West Brom (4-5-1): Foster; Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell; Odemwingie, Andrews, Mulumbu, Morrison, Brunt; Fortune. Subs from: Reid, Tamas, Long, Fulop, Shorey, Dorrans, Long, Cox

Form
United: WDWLWL
West Brom: LDLWWW

Match Stats

  • Manchester United kept to within two points of league leaders Manchester City with a 3-1 victory over Tottenham Hotpsur last weekend – Wayne Rooney’s 18th goal of the season and two from Ashley Young secured the points;
  • Young’s goals took his total for the season to four in the Premier League goals from 34 shots at goal with 71 per cent on target. His brace against Spurs catapulted the 26-year-old back into the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index top 100;
  • Meanwhile, Rooney’s goals have come from 95 shots at goal with 65 per cent on target;
  • Once again Michael Carrick covered the most ground for United, with 6.02 miles – it was the sixth time in a row the Geordie has covered the most ground for the Reds;
  • United’s evergreen midfielder Paul Scholes has not looked out of place since returning to the Premier League in January, and has completed 208 passes in his opponent’s half so far this season, averaging one every 2 minutes 15 seconds. Scholes is the second most prolific passer of the ball in the Premier League discounting those who have played fewer than 100 passes this season;
  • Visitors West Brom sealed the end of Andre Villas Boas’ reign at Chelsea with a 1-0 victory at the Hawthorns last weekend;
  • Gareth McAuley’s late goal earned the Baggies three points, lifted Roy Hodgson’s side to ninth place in the Premier League;
  • McAukley’s goal was his second in the Premier League this season, coming from an efficient eight shots at goal;
  • Youssuf Mulumbu covered the most ground for West Brom in that game with 6.32 miles.Officials

Officials
Referee: Lee Probert (South Gloucestershire)
Assistants: D Richardson, W Smallwood
Fourth Official: C Foy

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Comments

  1. Europa obviously will be second priority, we must play our strongest team
    DDG
    Fabio, Rio, Evans, Evra
    Nani, Scholes, Carrick, Young
    Rooney, Hernandez
    Cleverley and Anderson can be tried on for the Europa clash. Oh and Jones is a liability and shouldn’t play this season. It’s harsh but this is the business end of the season, let the best team pick itself really.

    Sir Ryan Giggs? No no no. Sir Paul Scholes say.

  2. U are right dozer

  3. Twisted Blood says:

    I know Carrick has been playing out of his skin, but if Cleverly and Ando could rediscover the magic they had in Aug-Sept., I’d go with that CM pairing. I’m not sure what it was, but Ando seemed twice the player with TC23 beside him. Kind of like the effect Paul Scoles has on, well, everyone he ever played with!

  4. Agree with Paul, I fear a draw

    Ando is also gonna play, int he

  5. 19 and Counting says:

    dozer said:
    Europa obviously will be second priority, we must play our strongest team
    DDG
    Fabio, Rio, Evans, Evra
    Nani, Scholes, Carrick, Young
    Rooney, Hernandez

    Cleverley and Anderson can be tried on for the Europa clash. Oh and Jones is a liability and shouldn’t play this season. It’s harsh but this is the business end of the season, let the best team pick itself really.

    When was the last time we saw Fabio? Is he alive? And Welbeck will replace Hernandez – you can bet on that. Where’s Berba? Seems a few of our players have gone AWOL.

  6. obviously we need 2 win dis game as i for see draw wen city takes on swancea,saf needs to rest jones and start rafel,i predict 3 0 as nani and rooney on target

  7. Gabagool says:

    How far away is Tony V from returning? We need him back and firing big time.
    Everyone’s talking up how we’ve got the easier run in than city, I dunno about that… There’s a few banana skins in there, this being one of them, and I reckon it’s tougher playing the bottom few clubs fighting for their survival than a 7th or 8th placed team with nothing to play for. Need to be switched on today or it could get tricky.

  8. i think sweet pea needs to come on as sub
    welbeck and rooney to start
    bring back berba – he can provide some quality up front too if required
    hardish game but they will all be with the pressure but i think united will have enough to get a result

  9. DDG – Jones, Rio, Evans, Evra – Young, Carrick, Scholes, Welbeck – Rooney, Chicharito

    Bench: Amos, Rafael, Pogba, Park, Giggs, Cleverley, Berba

  10. pogba on the bench is a good sign… attacking team.. should stroll this.. then again

  11. Welbeck out wide to accommodate Hernandez by the looks of it

    Knob won’t like that

  12. sidney said:
    Welbeck out wide to accommodate Hernandez by the looks of it

    Knob won’t like that

    knob doesn’t like a lot of things at united…

  13. why is jones at rb when we have both twins that can play there..

    • Mongoletsi says:

      // why is jones at rb when we have both twins that can play there.. //

      Because the twins aren’t good enough to be Utd fullbacks, at least not yet. Jones has been a bit ropey for a while but I still think he’s more solid defensively than the twins.

      On a related note; Evans… transformed. Redeemed?

  14. ltel said:
    why is jones at rb when we have both twins that can play there..

    only knobhead knows the answer

  15. no radio commentary on any usual station either

  16. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    sidney said:
    Welbeck out wide to accommodate Hernandez by the looks of it

    Knob won’t like that

    What’s wrong with Nani?

  17. madredmonkey madredmonkey says:

    strong attacking line up.

  18. Alfonso Bedoya said:
    What’s wrong with Nani?

    resting on his new contract

  19. Why is Pogba on the bench?! Thought he was going?

  20. Spudiator Spudiator says:

    han said:
    no radio commentary on any usual station either

    It’s on TalkSport, although that in itself is a fate worse than death, having to spend the entire match listening to Stan Collymore’s dreary voice and bullshit, uninformed opinions is like the footballing equivalent of torture! Dunno why it’s not being televised though.

  21. Commenter said:
    Why is Pogba on the bench?! Thought he was going?

    try to keep up
    on twatter

  22. Spudiator said:
    It’s on TalkSport, although that in itself is a fate worse than death, having to spend the entire match listening to Stan Collymore’s dreary voice and bullshit, uninformed opinions is like the footballing equivalent of torture! Dunno why it’s not being televised though.

    thats a radio station that i will never willingly listen to but thanks for the info
    collytwat is 100 times worse than alan scouser greene

  23. http://Www.firstrow.com, great site with loads if streams.

  24. madredmonkey madredmonkey says:

    Come on United win.

  25. Spudiator Spudiator says:

    See everyone bitches about Alan Greene, but actually he doesn’t bother me, even his Scouse bias isn’t as blatant as people imply, and at least he seems to be a legitimate sports journalist. The idea of considering Stan Collymore a journalist just seems like a joke, he’s a complete mong!

  26. Jones at it again

    West Brom should have scored

  27. jones is a fucking liability in defence
    and swansea just missed a penalty – cocks

  28. Jones has dived there, really

    Why do we persist with him on the right

  29. Spudiator Spudiator says:

    Can’t remember the name of the lead commentator on TalkSport, but his voice is getting almost as fucking annoying as Collymore’s!

  30. They’re gonna be a cunt to breakdown

  31. Welbeck looking the most lively

  32. roooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooney

  33. Get innnnn
    Well done Hernandez, cutting in and having a go

  34. Spudiator Spudiator says:

    Woohoo, 1-0! Even at times like this though, TalkSport are finding unique new ways to annoy me. Stan Collymore actually made the comment “United go 1-0 up on TalkSport”, as if they somehow contributed!

  35. madredmonkey madredmonkey says:

    Rooney 1-0 yes.

  36. Fucking class play by Hernandez, yeah hes only good coming on as a sub……Lovely touch by Rooney GET IN!

  37. Haha Jones you beast 100% commitment in every thing he does!

  38. Spudiator said:
    Woohoo, 1-0! Even at times like this though, TalkSport are finding unique new ways to annoy me. Stan Collymore actually made the comment “United go 1-0 up on TalkSport”, as if they somehow contributed!

    Hehe, commercial radio is shite

    But is it better than Al Green who will have just moaned about the goal “Well, United have scored but my view is obstructed by a fat bloke in a hat – it’s absolutely outrageous!”

  39. playing some wonderful stuff.. need a few more

  40. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    Playing some nice football… a good win… 3/4 goals would do the team some good.

    Now we just need word to get to the City dressing room at half time, that we’re leading… and maybe they’ll tighten up, and fuck up.

  41. brianofnazareth brianofnazareth says:

    Need a good sopcast if anyone knows of one!

  42. Shortly after we scored Mancini took Barry off (who wasn’t happy with the decision) and put Aguero on

    I wonder if news of our goal filtered through to the City bench

  43. brianofnazareth said:
    Need a good sopcast if anyone knows of one!

    try this
    http://www.briansgotatinycock@knobheads.com

  44. brianofnazareth brianofnazareth says:

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    Playing some nice football… a good win… 3/4 goals would do the team some good.

    Now we just need word to get to the City dressing room at half time, that we’re leading… and maybe they’ll tighten up, and fuck up.

    Alf what you watching it on mate?

  45. My new stream site. Very reliable http://livetv.ru/en/eventinfo/109206_manchester_utd_west_brom/
    from a previous poster – not mine but it is good if you get a decent connexion

  46. DeadRevel says:

    Hernandez was dire against Bilbao, looks a bit better today though.

    Beautiful back heel by Welbeck….

  47. brianofnazareth brianofnazareth says:

    han said:
    My new stream site. Very reliable http://livetv.ru/en/eventinfo/109206_manchester_utd_west_brom/

    from a previous poster – not mine but it is good if you get a decent connexion

    Cheers mate!

  48. brianofnazareth said:
    Cheers mate!

    love you tooxxx

  49. brianofnazareth brianofnazareth says:

    han said:
    love you tooxxx

    xoxox TXTL8RBABE

  50. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    brianofnazareth said:
    Alf what you watching it on mate?

    119537… decent picture, but in Spanish… best I can get today.

  51. madredmonkey madredmonkey says:

    where is the love.

  52. madredmonkey said:
    where is the love.

    in alf’s underpants

  53. DeadRevel says:

    Go on firstrowsports (dot) eu – click the first link…. it’s FOX Sport… perfect and in English.

  54. madredmonkey madredmonkey says:

    spilled all over them

  55. That should have been a penalty, and then we nearly score unlucky Hernandez great effort!

  56. Good hit, Hernandez

    Looked like West Brom should have had a pen, there was contact

  57. brianofnazareth brianofnazareth says:

    Commenter said:
    Go on firstrowsports (dot) eu – click the first link…. it’s FOX Sport… perfect and in English.

    Cheers!

  58. brianofnazareth brianofnazareth says:

    So close!! FFS! Welbeck is world class though…

  59. Welbeck misses a sitter
    Hope that doesn’t come back to haunt us
    Class ball from Scholes

  60. brianofnazareth brianofnazareth says:

    Fuck me what’s Welbeck still doing in our side!

  61. Welbeck’s close control is great

    Finishing needs work though

  62. Cheerio, cunt

  63. madredmonkey madredmonkey says:

    wba down to 10 men.

  64. 10 men now, come on finish them off united!

  65. who got red?

  66. madredmonkey madredmonkey says:

    han said:
    who got red?

    olsson.

  67. Fucking class Young winning the penalty, come on then!

  68. Get in, well in Waz

    Young has been good today

  69. Haha great peno and then the glare at Foster TALA!

  70. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    Awesome pen from Rooney… unsaveable, that.

  71. madredmonkey madredmonkey says:

    2-0 thats better.

  72. Looked like Rooney gave Foster a lingering stare after he scored

    Didn’t look friendly either

    • DeadRevel says:

      I saw that too…. maybe because Foster criticised United when he left. Or maybe he was trying to wind Rooney up before he took the pen.

  73. WTF!? I thought Pogba was going now they are saying hes stayin? HALLELIJAH!

  74. rooooooooooooooooooney (belatedly)
    come on lets get a hatful

  75. uncleknobheadffs uncleknobheadforfucksake says:

    have we had an unusually high number of pens this year

  76. Lol cheers every time Pogba gets a touch
    “Fergie sign him up” sung half heartedly

  77. uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    have we had an unusually high number of pens this year

    ah welcome unc
    i see the gate was left off the latch

  78. brianofnazareth brianofnazareth says:

    How come Pogba is playing? thought he left?

  79. madredmonkey madredmonkey says:

    brianofnazareth said:
    How come Pogba is playing? thought he left?

    end of season deal?

  80. Cleverley now

    THE FUTURE, until he gets injured in about 10 minutes

  81. uncleknobheadffs uncleknobheadforfucksake says:

    wheres nani

  82. pogba to juve was just a rumor.. hes playing so i guess he is staying

  83. madredmonkey madredmonkey says:

    uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    wheres nani

    didnt know you had one.

  84. Pogba gave away the ball that almost led to the goal = NO CONTRACT!

  85. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    Bitters still not scored… come on Swansea…

  86. uncleknobheadffs uncleknobheadforfucksake says:

    swansea score

  87. madredmonkey madredmonkey says:

    uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    swansea score

    good.

  88. Spudiator Spudiator says:

    B.E.A.Utiful! Come on Swansea, don’t throw it away!

  89. well bugger me sideways

  90. SWANSEA

  91. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    Have they scored?

  92. madredmonkey madredmonkey says:

    han said:
    well bugger me sideways

    uncle will later.

  93. madredmonkey madredmonkey says:

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    Have they scored?

    yes.

  94. MOORE YOU BEAUTY! 1-0 SWANSEA!

  95. Cit fan in tears FFS, the silly twat

  96. uncleknobheadffs uncleknobheadforfucksake says:

    is pogba much cop

  97. get fucking in swansea….

  98. uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    is pogba much cop

    Done nowt so far

  99. Everything is going our way today, De Gea caught a corner, Carrick made a run into the box, unbelievable scenes

  100. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    And there you go… choke!

    Too much talkin, before anything was won!

    Ha!

  101. madredmonkey madredmonkey says:

    good win for United.

  102. Good win

    Pogba dint do much but I think he was told to hold while Carrick went forward

  103. DeadRevel says:

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

    Get in!

    What a day….

  104. madredmonkey madredmonkey says:

    swansea won 1-0, great.

  105. DeadRevel says:

    To be fair, Pogba was just trying to do Scholes’s / Carrick’s job…. keep us ticking over in midfield.
    I’m sure if we were looking for a winner he would have been more attacking.

  106. YES SWANSEA WIN

    Cunts

  107. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    sidney said:
    Everything is going our way today, De Gea caught a corner, Carrick made a run into the box, unbelievable scenes

    Good weekend Sid…

    Verrrmin lost… always nice…

  108. Alfonso Bedoya said:
    Good weekend Sid…

    Verrrmin lost… always nice…

    Shit yeah, Dippers lost too

    Chuffed to fuck

  109. DeadRevel says:

    If the rumours about Paul Pogba are true, that just seals it as a fucking great weekend for United.

  110. madredmonkey madredmonkey says:

    Ah, a good day, enjoy all.

  111. The buzz around Old Trafford when Swansea scored. Unforgettable. It was almost as if we had scored.

  112. Reports of arguments in the City dressing room at half time

    Mancini said his players are tired

  113. DeadRevel says:

    From ManUtd.com:

    Sir Alex has told MUTV that Paul Pogba is “still trying to make up his mind” in regards to his future.

    Hmm…. not as positive as I’d hoped. But at least there’s a chance he’ll stay.

  114. Any news about valencia,Ed?

  115. Herbie Simms says:

    I’m not impressed with this victory but am more pleased that Swansea won. SAF needs to move on after we win our 20th title. But he is not going anywhere soon because he is now in the process of signing a young world class attacking midfielder/playmaker this summer! Giggs, Scholes, Anderson and Park shoild be on their way out. SAF is not stupid. He knows we need the strength in midfield to compete in the Champions league or we will be eliminated in the early stages again! But I have to give praise and respect to SAF because despite it all, he has got the team back on top of the league. Unbelieveable.

  116. Herbie Simms says:

    If SAF can get me a world class experienced right full back, a playmaker and a defensive midfielder, he can stay on another few years. If he is not going to use Owen or Berbatov, then he needs to send them packing and bring in just one world class striker like the HULK! We need a team that can compete and defeat teams like Bilbao, Real Madrid and Barcelona. I don’t like this team or their style of play but its good to at least see them at the top of the league.

  117. brianofnazareth brianofnazareth says:

    Commenter said:
    he is now in the process of signing a young world class attacking midfielder/playmaker this summer! Giggs, Scholes, Anderson and Park shoild be on their way out.

    ???

  118. Spudiator Spudiator says:

    Commenter said:
    If SAF can get me a world class experienced right full back, a playmaker and a defensive midfielder, he can stay on another few years.

    Wow, that’s generous of you! I didn’t realise you were one of the Glazers in disguise!

  119. Commenter said:
    SAF is not stupid.

    You are though.

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