Tom Cleverley’s injury against Bolton may not be as serious as first thought, but it is still a blow for both the player and Manchester United, as he’d become an integral part of the team’s success this season.
Cleverley’s ability to link up with Wayne Rooney, Nani and Danny Welbeck has been pivotal to United’s blistering start to the season, and the youngster’s partnership with Anderson looks like being one that could finally erase the Sneijder word from many Reds’ vocabulary.
Although I still feel Cleverley can raise his game a notch and become even more influential that he has been in the past month, there’s no denying he’s been very impressive. United seem to have become the sort of team Arsenal try to be, built around slick passing, quick movement and an almost ‘total football’ style of playing, which has seen the likes of Ashley Young, Nani and Cleverley penetrating from both flanks and the centre.
On Saturday Michael Carrick was brought on to replace Cleverley and performed admirably, doing the sort of job he’s been doing without any fanfare for the past five seasons. Carrick sits a lot deeper than Cleverley and is more concerned with mopping up loose balls and taking the sting out of the opposition attacks, while starting United’s own from deeper, than he is about bombing forward playing ‘give-and-go’ type passes.
I’ve been a Carrick admirer/defender ever since we bought him and actually rated him when he was at Spurs and while seeing him starting in Cleverley’s absence would be far from a disappointment, I cannot help but feel Ji Sung Park would be much better suited in a ‘like for like’ swap.
Park may not have the same quick thinking in his feet that Cleverley has but he’s no slouch in the passing department, plus he also has a tenacity that could be an inspiration for the young United midfielder.
Without getting carried away with stats, which can be used and abused to prove or disprove almost any point you wish to make, it’s obvious from watching Park, Carrick and Cleverley play which two are the most similar. United’s style this season has been based on energy and movement. Don’t get me wrong, Carrick can still be a part of this type of team, but I think Park would be the more suited to fit straight in.
Park was inspirational at the back end of last season and looked in fine form when he came on against Arsenal. Although with the Champions League starting next week, there’s no doubt going to be some chopping and changing of the starting XI, keeping together the same team that’s dominated the Premier League so far, especially for the upcoming EPL games, would be a step in the right direction.
With the visit of Chelsea and a tricky trip to the Britannia to play Stoke coming up in United’s next two league games, Park for Cleverley could not only help maintain the status quo but also give the South Korean the chance to shine in another ‘big game.’
With Darren Fletcher nearing a first team return, Carrick and Paul Pogba seemingly destined for a chance very soon, Park in for Cleverley in the league makes a lot of sense. The other midfielders can be swapped about for the cup games, whether Sir Alex Ferguson thinks the same remains to be seen.
Article courtesy of Justin Mottershead from Red Flag Flying High
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