Manchester United Starlets – #1 Tom Cleverley
Tom Cleverley is a 21 year old from Yorkshire who has been at united since 2005 moving from the Bradford Youth Academy. He moved steadily through the ranks and within a few years, after having captained the reserves and helping them win the league and cup double, it was clear that he had outgrown reserve team football. He was called up to the first teams’ tour of South Africa in the summer of 2008 and scored against the Kaizer Chiefs.
He received a squad number for the 2008/2009 season but never made his competitive debut (and still hasn’t) despite making the bench a couple of times. In early 2009 he was sent on loan to League 1 side Leicester where he played 15 times scoring twice. A shoulder injury caused Cleverley to return to Man United earlier than expected but he did enough to earn a League 1 winners medal.
He spent the summer of 2009 at United and in his first game at Old Trafford in the summer of 2009 and in front of 70 odd thousand v Valencia he showed again his ability to score arriving at the right time in the box before calmly beating a defender and finishing with ease.
Knowing that he wouldn’t get the game time he deserved at Old Trafford this prompted Fergie to send him on loan to Championship team Watford in the 09/10 season. Here he was a revelation as the Hornets pushed for promotion and Tom quickly became a crowd favourite. He finished the season with an impressive 11 goals in 33 games and was awarded for his performances with the Watford Player of the Year despite only playing until April due to a knee injury.
He returned to Manchester United in the summer of 2010 and joined the first team squad on a tour of North America. Again he showed his obvious talent in all the games he featured in, scoring in the games against Celtic and the MLS All Stars.
Tom Cleverley’s performances in Americe led to some fine praise from Ferguson himself and others within the United camp. Ferguson was quoted as saying:“He is an exceptional young player in terms of his ability to play a variety of positions. He can play in central midfield and on both wings. He is such a talent, we must keep him. He showed at Watford that he’s a goalscorer from midfield and we need that. Apart from Darron Gibson, we don’t have a lot of goals coming from midfield. The days of expecting Scholes to score 15 goals a season have gone now. So we needed to look at that area and there’s no doubt Cleverley has outstanding qualities as far as goalscoring is concerned.”
In fact Cleverley has long been tipped by sources within the club to make the step up to the first team not only for his talent but his overall dedication, attitude to training and the manner in which he carries himself. The only time he has stepped minorly out of line is when the club advised him to close his Twitter account for his own sake which he duly obliged without any fuss.
It was thought by many that he would make the breakthrough in 2010 at United but after a chat with Ferguson it was decided that he would spend at least half the season on loan at another Premier League club.
A few clubs came in but due to the style of football Roberto Martinez instills at Wigan it was decided that Tom would be best off there developing his game. He hasn’t disappointed either! He broke into the team after a couple of games and shone brightly pitching in with a couple of assists.
His fine start at Wigan was halted by a slight injury however but once he came back he was better than before earning rave reviews from pundits, Martinez and the Wigan fans and has so far scored 3 goals in 11 games. In his brief time at Wigan he has become a household name and proved that United definitely have a star in their hands!
Toms best position is in an advanced midfield role. He makes things look easy but then again all the good players do. He uses the ball wisely preferring simple passes that keep the ball rather than over elaborate cross field balls. He has pace and skill and but doesn’t always go to beat players instead looking for clever 1-2’s that can unlock defenses. His best asset though is his goal scoring ability. He has the knack of ghosting into the box at the right time and is calm and natural in front of goal.
Cleverley can also strike from outside the box as shown during his reserve years, Watford and now in the Premiership with Wigan. I think he has it all and dare I say it the natural successor to Paul Scholes. They are not exactly like for like but the team will evolve when Scholes retires and Cleverley will spearhead the evolution.
He has been prone to the odd injury but avoiding any serious injury this kid has a great future ahead of him. The only question remains whether he will be recalled this season to challenge for a place or allowed to see out the season at Wigan where he is guaranteed a game week in week out. So there you have it: Tom Cleverley, Manchester Uniteds Number 1 Starlet!
Do you agree?
Check out the video below showing a couple of Manchester United goals in friendlies, a few at Watford and a a couple from his Reserve Days.
Submitted by Glory Glory Man Utd
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