Are United missing a trick with Tom Cleverley?

As Sir Alex Ferguson so eloquently pointed out in his pre- match press conference last Friday, we are indeed approaching the ‘silly season’. Ferguson was then referring to questions surrounding the speculation that Real Madrid were preparing a move for Wayne Rooney. However, it works both ways of course, and at present, Manchester United are being linked with every Tom, Dick or Harry going. If we are to believe everything we read in the papers, Ferguson’s transfer strategy basically equates to this:

‘That James Milner’s had a good season! Let’s bid £20m.

‘Hey, Jack Rodwell scored a nice goal against us. Plus he’s made 8 league starts already this season! We better prepare a £20m bid…

‘Phwoar, Gareth Bale’s looked good in the three and a half months he’s started for Spurs. Hey Malcolm, get the cheque book out, we’re bidding… that’s right, £20m baby! Wahooo!’

Whilst Manchester United are in need of some fresh recruits, all they need is a nip and tuck, not the major reconstructive surgery some are suggesting. United are still in with a chance of winning the league, and have already claimed the League Cup for their troubles. Therefore, before the club goes bananas and starts bidding £20m for every player that’s had a half decent season, perhaps Ferguson should choose the upcoming season to bed in a talent that would cost the club zero. Tom Cleverley, a Manchester United youngster currently on-loan at Watford, has been one of the Championship’s brightest stars this season, and if his form at Vicarage Road is anything to go by, United might not need to go out and spend big on another midfielder.

Cleverley, 20, has unfortunately had his season cut short at Vicarage Road owing to knee ligament damage. The player has struggled with injury intermittently throughout his young career, but United will be hopeful the player can avoid injury next term, and continue his fine progress.

This season, Cleverley is top of the Watford goal scoring charts with 11 goals in 35 appearances, whilst the player also claimed five assists for the Hornets. Watford supporters have compared the player with Paul Scholes, but note that he is flexible enough to play anywhere across the midfield. Cleverley has good pace, bags of skill, but is also a tireless worker for the team. Many Premier League youngsters go down to the Championship and, rather than graft for the team, are more interested in showboating and doing the spectacular in a bid to win notoriety (Tottenham Hotspur’s Adel Taarabt anyone?) but Cleverley has combined his ability with an excellent work ethic.

Cleverley’s loan period at Watford has been an undoubted success, with Watford manager Malky Mackay especially appreciative of the player’s contribution before his injury. Mackay told the BBC:

“Since arriving, he has been fantastic for us in every way, not just games but also his attitude and application.

“He’s actually scored goals, he’s set up goals and he’s shown a real willingness to be a team player.”

Cleverley’s ability to dictate play and create opportunities for others is rare in a player so young. Further, the fact that he has not only excelled in the reserves, but also in a league as competitive as the Championship, bodes well for Manchester United.

Tom Cleverley joined Manchester United as a trainee in July 2005, arriving from Bradford City’s youth set-up, which was close to where the boy grew up. Cleverley worked his way through the ranks at United, representing the under 18s and reserves, before being called up to the first team in July 2008 for the club’s pre-season tour of South Africa, and the match against Portsmouth in Nigeria. Cleverley scored on his first team debut against the Kaiser Chiefs on the same tour.

During the 2008/09 season, Cleverley went on loan to Leicester City, where the player made 15 appearances, scoring two goals, and won a League One winners medal with the Midlands club.

Have a look at some of Tom Cleverley’s goals and assists for Watford, England (youth) and Manchester United here on Youtube

[youtube XRcKtYqcA_8]

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