Alan Shearer is the latest player to hail young midfielder Tom Cleverley, claiming in hindsight both United and England suffered in his absence.
Cleverley was unable to build on an impressive start to last season after injuries kept him out from September to February, when he returned he lacked the sharpness he had shown at the season’s start.
Cleverley’s performance against Man City and the role he played in United trouncing the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea showed the quality he had but when Sir Alex bemoaned his absence many didn’t quite understand how a player in his first season as a first team player could be so important to the Scottish manager’s plans.
A year later, with more games under his belt, an impressive showing at the Olympics and 2 England caps more people are starting to see what Sir Alex claimed United had missed.
One such person is Alan Shearer, and the England and Newcastle titan is very hopeful for the future of a national team that includes Tom Cleverley. Speaking in The Sun, Shearer said:
“When Alex Ferguson bemoaned the loss of Tom Cleverley to injury early last season a few eyebrows were raised.
“He was basically saying it was a major blow to his side and their prospects for the season.
“This about a player who had performed in only a handful of games for Manchester United after a series of spells out on loan.
“Looking back, Fergie was spot on because his side never again played with the same explosive, attacking movement as they had done in those opening fixtures with Cleverley, 23, part of the team…
“It was a shame both for Ferguson and England that the early term explosion of passing and movement did not develop into a full season of promise realised.
“It would not only have made a difference to Manchester United’s title tilt but to how England played in the Euros this summer.
“Cleverley’s return to fitness was simply too late for him to be included in Roy Hodgson’s plans.
“But I truly believe his pace and vision could have made a difference in a game that proved as tight as the one against Italy…
“But what Cleverley, who won only his second cap against Moldova, offers is a player who with one touch, on the move, going forward, can inject pace into the whole movement of the team.
“He makes sure the ball coming out of defence or deep in midfield continues quickly on its way up field putting the opposition swiftly on the back foot.
“The sort of football that undoes teams at the very highest level — the sort that does not give opponents time to think…
“I hope he gets the chance to shine again — and regularly after that. Not just for England but for Manchester United.
“Because a full season with his club playing games at the very highest level in the Premier and Champions League will bring him on no end.
“By the time we reach Brazil in 2014 we could really have some player. One around which the team can tick, a player that all great teams have… This might seem like undue pressure on someone still counting his caps on one hand.
“But what we always look for with England is hope — and in Cleverley there is some.”
The full interview can be read here