A home-grown attacking midfielder

This summer Manchester United supporters have as one cried for a new attacking midfielder to complete what is still a very good squad, albeit lacking some creativity. This desire is, of course, tied both to Paul Scholes’ ageing legs and the Mesut Özil transfer saga, which came to a close last week when the German signed for Real Madrid.

Having lost out on the German, United may now turn to someone already at the club to fill the creative role in central midfield – Tom Cleverley.

Ever since joining United at age fifteen in 2005, Basingstoke-born Cleverley has impressed coaches and supporters alike. In 2008 he was nominated for Reserve Player of the Season, after just his first full year with the reserves.

The youngster was then called up to the United first team squad for the club’s tour of South Africa in summer 2008 and was again nominated for Reserve Player of the Season at the end of that campaign, despite spending almost half the season on loan at Leicester City in the Championship.

Cleverley truly came into the spotlight during his season-long loan to Watford in the 2009-10 season when the club named the attacking midfielder its player of the season, on his way to eleven league goals.

Such were Cleverley’s performances for Watford that he earned an appearance on this summer’s tour to Canada, the USA and Mexico, with the midfielder scoring against both Celtic and the MLS All-Stars. The latter, a goal of real quality, came from an ingenious flick and smart first-time finish.

Despite speculation that the player would again be loaned, Sir Alex Ferguson has opted to retain the English midfielder’s services this season, praising the player who is yet to make a senior competitive appearance for the club.

“He is an exceptional young player in terms of his ability to play a variety of positions,” added Ferguson this summer.

“He can play in central midfield and on both wings. He is such a talent, we must keep him.”

Now Cleverley faces arguably the most important season of his career, with a real chance to crack the United first team. There has never been a better time for the player to make the jump up in class, with Paul Scholes playing a deeper role (and less often at 36), Michael Carrick in the poorest form of his career and Anderson injured and out of favour.

Last season the five-man midfield deployed in most of United’s important fixtures offered Sir Alex an insurance policy when it came to blooding new midfielders. When Darron Gibson came into the picture and performed poorly, United’s two deep-lying midfielders provided extra support and security.

The Irishman gained opportunities in high-profile matches, most memorably against Bayern Munich at Old Trafford in which the 22-year-old scored. Ferguson employed Gibson in the attacking midfield role that Scholes once occupied several times last season but despite the player’s long-range shooting, many supporters feel that Irishman doesn’t have the pace, creativity or range of passing to develop into a top rate attacking midfielder.

On the other hand, Cleverley does.

The midfielder is able to make clever runs to get into advanced positions, can beat a man and moves the ball well. If Cleverley is given the same number of opportunities that Gibson has been afforded, there is every chance the Englishman will have even more success.

The key games for Cleverley will be the early season Carling Cup ties where the midfielder will automatic be on the teamsheet. He must now prove to Ferguson that he has developed to maturity and ability to start the more important fixtures that come in March, April and May when the injury list inevitably piles up.

In fact, if Cleverley impresses in these early season matches there’s every chance he will gain more minutes at United, than the high-profile former target Özil will at Real Madrid.

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Comments

  1. Josh says

    I agree that Cleverley is clearly the best long term option, but in the short to medium term, Anderson is probably the likeliest bet providing he can sort him self out. He has the big game experience that Cleverley doesn’t have, even if good performances have been sporadic. On those rare occasions I think he’s looked excellent, and has the natural abilities for that position, even if he hasn’t really been used there for United (disappointingly).

    But Tom is a brilliant and exciting prospect and will surely push hard, particularly in cup games – both Carling and FA. I just hope Fergie doesn’t try and turn him into a box-to-box midfielder and force him deeper.

  2. Sidsidney says

    We need Cleverley to work out

    Play the cunt a lot, fuck Carrick

    Stick him alongside Scholes and Fletcher, abandon 442 against everyone but the riff raff, possession possession possession, goals from midfield, break the deadlock, service to the forwards etc.

  3. captainhormonecaptainhormone says

    if fergie trusted him, he would have played him now……all this youth stuff is bollocks…….the lad should get games, but he wont

    • Fredster says

      Agreed. I’d like to see Rafael picked ahead of O’Shea, Cleverley given an opportunity in the Premier League and Michael Owen done away with completely so that Hernandez and Macheda can get more minutes. Despite his exciting pre-season form, Cleverley has now inexplicably vanished from the first team picture. I know there have only been two league games but if he’s not going to be given a chance against the likes of Newcastle and Fulham, when exactly is he going to get his chance?

  4. RobDiablo says

    I’m afraid that Sir Alex hasn’t finished giving Gibson his chance to become the next Paul Scholes, so whatever opportunities to play that arise before Anderson returns, gets another run in the side, and ultimately disappoints will go to Gibson. Barring a run of injuries to midfielders, Cleverley will probably come on as a sub in a few cup ties. All is not lost, however; United won’t have any money to spend on quality midfielders next year or the year after that, so Cleverley will eventually get his opportunity to play for United.

  5. captainhormonecaptainhormone says

    he wont get a chance…none of them will…its all a smoke screen to placate the gullible ones amongst us who buy into everything fergie says

    we have no money and the youth aint good enough in his eyes

  6. says

    Have to say I reckon CaptH is correct. All you hear is about how many talented young players United have. The cunts never get a chance to play in the first team. Any wonder why most of them never progress.

  7. captainhormonecaptainhormone says

    Thing is Liam, i feel ashamed even having to make a statement like that….the glazers are slowly doing what they did at Tampa Buccs…..ruining our fucking great club…ruining it…..

    utter utter uber cunts

  8. cantilever_moaner says

    captainhormone said:
    Thing is Liam, i feel ashamed even having to make a statement like that….the glazers are slowly doing what they did at Tampa Buccs…..ruining our fucking great club…ruining it…..

    utter utter uber cunts

    Don’t feel ashamed pal they certainly are. However as long as we finish in CL places and get 75k plus for out home games, they’ll keep hoovering up the money.

    Sad state of affairs!

  9. captain-fletcher says

    Piss off fat Sam. I bet you used to drool over Luke Chadwick. We need top talent, not Watford cast offs. He’ll end up like the rest, most likely at a championship club, maybe a Sunderland or Wigan. Where is Ed’s pessimism when we need it.

    BRING BACK ED!

    • Josh says

      Watford Cast off? He was on loan there, from us! How that qualifies as being a cast off I’ll never know.

      Suppose Beckham was a Preston cast off too was he?

  10. Redsmoke says

    What has any of you seen that would say SAF doesn’t think Cleverly is a prospect?

    Giving Cleverly the reigns of United’s attack right now would be reckless for a kid who hasn’t really played with the first team often.

    • Fredster says

      How about giving him a ten minute cameo when we are cruising to a comfortable home victory over a promoted side? Even that is deemed too much for Cleverley. Back to the reserves for you, Thomas!

      Then again, the unimpressive Chris Smalling keeps making the bench ahead of Wes Brown, Rafael and Fabio, so God only knows Fergie’s thinking on that one.

  11. danniitronix says

    he ain’t gonna get a chance because Taggart is gonna get on the Chivas watch a YouTube video and buy the next “Anderson”, FFS.

  12. cantilever_moaner says

    Unregistered User said:
    CaptainHormone,

    Go sit in G-stand and get your hormones sorted Groaner.

    Yer Grumpy Old Geeza.

    ah H Stand is where the real moaning takes place !

  13. pjch says

    Well if Cleverley is going to be our long term saviour surely he must be given the opportunity to play in the first team. Its no good saying hes brilliant and not giving him a run in the team – and I don’t mean 1 game in 3 games out, or a 10 min cameo. He has to be given the chance over a period to see if he can make it – hes not a kid anymore so play him

  14. says

    If we are in transition then we have to take chances to blood these youngsters otherwise what’s the point of having them and who knows maybe some of them will come good, for the person who put the class of 92 in to the first team way back when, Ferguson hasn’t half changed his tune over the years.

  15. eddieTheRed says

    Cleverley is the real deal; great skill; good football brain; and a natural winner’s instinct; I can’t wait to see him get his chance this season as I think he’ll prove all the doubters wrong!

    United may be bled dry by the Glazers but the club is still producing talented young players who can step up to the mark and fight for the big prizes; I’ve been watching this Tom Cleverley for a long time and I think he can make it happen for us; have the whingers among us any idea how many Premier League clubs were trying to sign him on loan during the summer?

    Have a little patience and watch this little seed grow!

  16. captainhormonecaptainhormone says

    Unregistered User said:
    Cleverley is the real deal; great skill; good football brain; and a natural winner’s instinct; I can’t wait to see him get his chance this season as I think he’ll prove all the doubters wrong!

    United may be bled dry by the Glazers but the club is still producing talented young players who can step up to the mark and fight for the big prizes; I’ve been watching this Tom Cleverley for a long time and I think he can make it happen for us; have the whingers among us any idea how many Premier League clubs were trying to sign him on loan during the summer?

    Have a little patience and watch this little seed grow!

    Eddie that’s all well an good, but if you read what has been said, we are all of the agreement he should get games…..but sadly he wont…..Fergies has no room to maneuver here…due to the financials we cant afford to finish less than third and quarters in Europe…as a result all this bollocks he’s talked re playing he kids wont happen as he aint got the bottle no more to do so as the pressure from the financials means its to much of a risk

  17. danniitronix says

    yeah but thos EPL clubs have some brains whereas Fergus keeps sticking to te same old shit in midfield, FFS he has to play Cleverley but he has no bollocks

    the fergus that jacked off ince, kanchel, mcgrath, RVN, becks and keane is now a jelly legged sentimental – he has gone soft, he needs to be ruthless

    face it you cunts, what you rather have

    loosing to Fulham when all our young lads are out
    or loosing to Fulham with the legends but old fuckers out

    if we are gonna loose I’d rather the young lads got bummed because at least they have the capacity to learn and adapt as they have never tasted silver

    it’s a futile strategy destined to fuck up.

  18. captainhormonecaptainhormone says

    excellent post danni for you……i agree i’d rather the young uns get a game and lose than play our perceived stronger 11 and scrape a draw

  19. Just1n says

    that what is supposed to happen with a squad in transition , but it just feels like this fucking transition should have happened 2 years ago

  20. danniitronix says

    Just1n said:
    that what is supposed to happen with a squad in transition , but it just feels like this fucking transition should have happened 2 years ago

    yep, to be fair Fergus has got the transition usually correct apart from the bit when he had kleberson, bosnich, taibi, carrol, dj dj, veron, fortune …

    its not unavoidable – he just needs to grow a pair and stop bullshitting us, ffs, why start the season with a pop at Citeh and bigging up the yoooof only to loan two of the cunts out and not play the others.

    it’s insane.

    • Fredster says

      From what I understand, Defour is nothing like Cleverley. I suspect Defour would be a replacement for Hargreaves. There are still rumours about us signing Raul Meireles, who is in the same mould as Defour, so it will be one or the other of those two I would think, but not both (unless we intend to sell Carrick perhaps…)

      • Josh says

        Right. I’m no expert on the guy at all, but from what I understood, he’s more of an attacking mid than a Hargreaves type holder.

        As I say though, no expert.

  21. wakers says

    I think fergie can see frank lampard type player in gibson, i think lampard used to get similar stick from the west ham fans, if he improves his passing there is no doubt gibson is a player who could score 10-15 a season from midfield.

    cleverley is a great young prospect, like wilkshire at arsenal, i think if he gets 10-12 1st team games plus league cup this year he’ll be doing well.

    Cleverley and Gibson for me would be like having a young scholes and lampard playing together, get a good holding midfielder behind them and that could be the making of a great side.

  22. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Unregistered User said:
    I think fergie can see frank lampard type player in gibson, i think lampard used to get similar stick from the west ham fans, if he improves his passing there is no doubt gibson is a player who could score 10-15 a season from midfield.

    cleverley is a great young prospect, like wilkshire at arsenal, i think if he gets 10-12 1st team games plus league cup this year he’ll be doing well.

    Cleverley and Gibson for me would be like having a young scholes and lampard playing together, get a good holding midfielder behind them and that could be the making of a great side.

    Gibson… the new Lampard? Come on Mate. The new Bowyer maybe.

    And I would rather see Cleverly sent to Sunderland or Blackburn, etc… if they’d put him in the first team and get him some proper experience, than sit on our bench for half the season.

    Fergie might pick him for the silly cup, or a few last 10 minute substitutions… but I’d rather see him play regularly against Arsenal, Chumpski, spurs, etc… and that’s not going to happen at United.

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