Tom Cleverley Is Now Man Utd’s Most Important Central Midfielder
Anderson. Darren Fletcher. Michael Carrick. Ryan Giggs. Tom Cleverley. That is the central midfield that sends fear into the heart of fans. Sadly it’s the Manchester United fans who are fearful as unquestionably it is the frailest midfield in Sir Alex Ferguson’s tenure at the club.
Back in the good old days the midfield had Roy Keane and Paul Scholes to look to and even when one was not available a pairing of Keane and Kleberson or even Scholes and Eric Djemba-Djemba was used. Despite who was alongside them the latter managed to still play extremely well. This seems to be the problem with the central midfield at present.
There seems to be the age old excuse that Anderson doesn’t work with Fletcher or Carrick doesn’t work with Fletcher or Anderson as players are static. The only optimism seems to be Cleverley in midfield who is energetic, positive and plays quick one touch football which causes United to close up the space in midfield which teams capitalize on.
Anderson’s time at Old Trafford seems to be filled with frustrating fans and inconsistency on the pitch. Famously dubbed the new Ronaldinho and with a £18 million price tag from Porto much was expected of the Brazilian and judging from performances at Porto he was a best described as a player with bags of skill of ran into the box to fire fierce raspers into the net. Unfortunately none of this has been seen thus far at Old Trafford. The only thing I can say for Anderson is he has the quality we’ve just seen no justification of the price tag in 4 inconsistency plagued seasons.
Fletcher was at his best in the 2008/9 season where he cemented a central midfield player where he worked as a defensive midfielder. He wasn’t technically great but he hassled midfielders, clipped at their heels and terrorized them off the ball. Cruelly he missed the Champions League final against Barcelona due to a red card in the final minutes of the semi-final against Arsenal. A very harsh sending out. Some even blamed the 2-0 Champions League loss to the Catalan’s down to Fletchers absence.
Sadly now he has yet to show any glimpses of the form since then partly due to a mystery illness. Maybe that’s down to the expectation of what he can bring to the team being too high after such huge performances. It seems he has adapted a more attacking approach in recent seasons, being higher up the pitch, taking the burden of offering some creativity through the centre changing his style of play.
Carrick is a player who has divided opinion ever since his £18 million switch from Tottenham Hotspur. There has been a case to say that Michael Carrick has been underrated and yet overrated at the same time by sections of fans. He works hard for the team and fans will label him as ‘useless’ and a liability while others label him a genius. In harsh reality he is neither. He is a very good player and his main ability is his will to maintain the ball and get attacks started. He didn’t have an easy task replacing Keane and his iconic number 16 shirt.
For his time at Old Trafford Carrick has been arguably one of United’s most consistent players and could say he was one of the reasons Manchester United stormed to back to back titles after 3 long years without a Premier League title. Unfortunately his mental strength is not up to scratch and could crack at any moment when really put under pressure and has culminated in mistakes. His most costly of those came in the FA Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester City when his stray pass gited Yaya Toure the winner.
He has the ability and when able to express himself is capable of a 40 yard through ball to set up attacks which is one of his main attributes. We have not seen this for a while and is a squad player in the current United side despite striking up a partnership with Giggs towards the end of last season.
One may still argue that Carrick is suffering from not being able to express himself as he was able to before. Playing in a role he is not best accustomed to and currently when placed in midfield has take the majority of responsibility in the defensive aspect and protecting his back 4 although not having the tenacity of a real ball winner. He passes the ball holds his position to ensure protection to the back 4. That is the problem.
I have yet to address Giggs but notably he has a bit part this season considering he is nearing 38 years of age but still able to come in and make an impact but not in the manner as he once could but still capable of big performances as we saw last season but is a luxury player.
Cleverley now is such a key figure in midfield and has huge pressure and expectation on his shoulders. The fact that at only 22 years old he has returned from loan spells, slotting into the midfield with such huge pressure on his shoulders ahead of more experienced team-mates shows that the current midfield has a huge problem in performing and controlling games.
If he can stay fit and continue to impress with his quick tempo passing and movement and in January Sir Alex Ferguson could get the right centre midfielder in it could pay dividends for United as the right balance is needed. Cleverley likes to operate outside the area and is a more creative player but also tracks back, is extremely hard working and covers a lot of ground. Doesn’t that remind you of somebody?
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