Manchester United have just clinched their record nineteenth Premiership title and are preparing to face Barcelona in the Champions League final. The Red Devils will go into the Wembley showpiece full of confidence and looking to complete a memorable double. However, some sections of the media have still raised question marks about the quality of the current United side. The current team’s quality has been criticised when compared to some of Sir Alex Ferguson’s previous squads, which may have an element of truth to it, but I feel it’s irrelevant when you see what they have achieved this season. Sir Alex would also be quick to discard such suggestions, however he will no doubt have an injection of new players next season. It is likely Manchester United’s legendary manager will be put his faith in some of United’s young players next season, after successful loan spells away this year. Obviously, they aren’t going to come back and walk straight into the first team, but do Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck ,in particular, have the potential to make their emergence into the first team squad?
Tom Cleverley has been an integral part of the Wigan’s relegation battle this season and the United youngster has weighed in with four goals for the cause. He had an impressive spell at Watford last season where he scored eleven goals and was voted their player of the season. Now that he has had his first taste of Premier League action with Wigan, next season could be his chance to break into the first team set up at Old Trafford. Cleverley has the ability to replicate a similar rise to prominence to that of Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere, who after his loan spell with Bolton has become a first team regular with the Gunners.
With Paul Scholes in the twilight of his career, Cleverley could eventually materialise as an ideal long term replacement for Scholes. At this present moment in time Cleverley still has a lot of work to do to step into Scholes’ boots and convincing the Old Trafford crowd he is good enough to stake his claim will take some time, as Darron Gibson will vouch for. Gibson has been heavily criticised for his performances by many United fans and after opening a twitter account recently he closed it within two hours due to the amount of abuse he received from his own supporters.
Danny Welbeck is another player who has made sufficient progress in his career as a result of a loan spell with Sunderland. He even did enough to catch the eye of England manager Fabio Capello who rewarded his good form with his first England cap. Welbeck is a player who will no doubt divide opinion among United fans as to whether he is capable enough to break into the first team. Sir Alex Ferguson will ultimately decide on the future of his young players and from what he told Manchester United’s official website with regards to their future, it looks promising , “They will come back into the first-team squad and they will get plenty of games next season.” Ferguson was full of praise for the two players and clearly feels they have the potential to make it at the club, “Cleverley has done very well, particularly in his spell at Watford and then at Wigan. He has improved in each case and he is going to be a top player. Welbeck has been fantastic too, it’s just unfortunate that he picked up a bad injury. But they will all be ready for next year.”
With Federico Macheda and Mame Diouf also set to return from loan spells next year and with no sign of a new contract for Michael Owen there is likely to be one forward position for Welbeck, Macheda and Diouf to fight for. The young players are likely to be given opportunities next season and it will be interesting to see if they can break into the team in the same way as Beckham, Scholes, Butt and the Neville’s did in the early nineties. So is it still too early for these players to be considered as potential first teamers at Man United, or are they now equipped to play for one of the biggest clubs in world football?