You’ll be hard pressed to find any United fan that says something tops beating our neighbours for a trophy but the performance of youngster Tom Cleverley on Sunday comes close.
For such a young player, and one who has spent the last three seasons out on loan, the last of which being at Wigan, the way he controlled the midfield and passed the ball was something of a revelation.
Of course, for those who watched the boy’s progression throughout his so far short career, it was not too surprising. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer stated that ‘there are young players, and then there’s Tom Cleverley’ – our former striker and reserve team coach holds Cleverley in high esteem and convinced the club to keep him on their books when there were concerns over his height and potential to develop to the standard required at Old Trafford.
How the club will be thanking Ole now!
In our final game of the US tour against Barcelona, Tom was hailed by Fergie as the best player on the pitch, looking assured and not once out of place amongst some of the best players in the world. An England call up- for an albeit now defunct friendly – has followed, and Cleverley is one of football’s men of the moment, with talk of a start for United against West Brom in the season opener next Sunday being a ‘strong possibility’ in the words of our manager himself.
Comparisons to Paul Scholes have frequently been made, with Patrice Evra stating they are similar types of player and person, with Cleverley just ‘getting on with the job’ and being a quiet lad off the field. Of course, the more pressing concern is how he acts on the field, and if past signs are anything to go by, the future is certainly bright for the young player, and therefore United.
One of the best things Fergie does is to give young players a chance to break into the squad, just look at the youth on display at Wembley, and the results they yielded. Cleverley was sent on loan for a couple of seasons to learn his trade and get playing time when it was clear he could not break into the United squad, yet now he has improved and matured as a player, Fergie is ready to give him the chance he has earned and let him develop further as a player on the field and as a person playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world.
Cleverley does not have a reputation as a big time Charlie, and does not seem to have let his rise to the top affect his mentality, and is determined to progress even further and follow in the footsteps of close friend Jack Wilshire and become a fixture in his club side along with the future of England’s midfield. Looking at his displays thus far, it would not be a surprise to any if he succeeds.
I’ve been a big fan of him for awhile (and my old comments on this blog confirm this!). I was able to watch a few of his games at Watford and his play stood out exceptionally higher than anyone else on the pitch. It had been quite some time since our academy produced a creator. I was quite excited to see him play for us last season, only to be loaned last-minute to Wigan. In hindsight it may have been the best thing since we still had Scholes and he likely would’ve only picked up 10 or so appearances. He still wasn’t able to play in his prefered position, but I guess we should be greatful for lots of PL experience, improved versatility etc…
That brings us to this season for which I feel he has to be given a good run of games. Months ago even I had my doubts as I was hoping he’d have a “great” season at Wigan whereas it is probably “strong”, but not perhaps to my expectations. But I’d never totally lost faith and now that he’s back in his prefered position and surrounded by much better teammates it’s clear he remains one who is deserving of high hopes.
He’s done everything possible to prove he’s earned the chance. As in life, there are no certainties in football, but if we can’t put faith in Cleverley now than we’re no longer following the United way. Thanks Ole, and I’m sure you’ll be proven right.
He really surprised me with his all action, high tempo performance in the CS. I had seen him in U21s and for Wigan last season and did not think he was anything special, glad to say it looks like I got it wrong. Give Tom a run of games this season and a gem may begin to aquire its polish.