The beginning of last season saw a bit of a false start as far as Tom Cleverley is concerned.
After helping to turn the game in the Community Shield against City and one or two other promising performances early on, his season was pretty much over before it had begun.
He was only out for three months, but by the time he returned the team had a settled feel about it, aided by the return of a certain Paul Scholes, and young Tom was restricted to sporadic cameo appearances thereafter.
With this definitely being Scholes’ last season (…so we’re told) and the lack of an incoming central midfielder, it seems Sir Alex will put faith in Cleverley.
I must admit that I would ideally want to see a midfielder or two arrive at Old Trafford. Either a playmaker type like Modric/Moutinho or, with no sign if or when Fletcher will return, a ball-winner like Tiote/Martinez.
I think we will sign one centre midfielder but that doesn’t mean Cleverley’s opportunities will be limited.
Scholes and, in particular Michael Carrick were excellent last season, but that was without midweek games from January onwards. It will be tough for them to repeat that sort of control over a whole season.
Cleverley’s only other challenger for a central midfield position is Anderson. Many United fans, and possibly Ferguson, have lost patience with the Brazilian. I don’t think Anderson will leave, but there is no doubt that he is behind Cleverley in the pecking order.
It’s tough to say where exactly Cleverley is. After his impressive start last term, the inevitable heir-to-Scholes pressure was heaped on him. Then, when he didn’t make as big an impact as some had hoped, he was labelled as not good enough.
He will never dominate a game like Scholes can, but Cleverley certainly has a place in the United midfield. His one-touch and two-touch passing is an unfortunately rare, yet very valuable quality. His vision and composure on the ball also set him apart.
What midfield wouldn’t want a player like him?
We shouldn’t expect too much with Cleverley this time around. His season will start late, as will be with Great Britain’s Olympic football squad until the end of August.
This should help rather than hinder him. It will give him some valuable experience and hopefully, a fair amount of playing time against some good players.
Ferguson will be patient after that, making sure he has some conditioning training on his return and I assume he will be introduced back into the first-team slowly.
After that though, the sky is the limit. And Tom Cleverley will make the impact we all hoped he might.
Is Cleverley ready or do you think he isn’t United quality? Discuss with Daniel on Twitter @Daniel_S_Cross