Who needs Sneijder when you have Cleverley?!

Ready to join the elite?

As I read Football Rascal’s fan guide from Friday, other than chuckling readily throughout, I found myself thinking about what type of fan I am. It is difficult to quantify, it is always hard to know yourself and I like to think I probably have a little bit of all different types of fan in me… even though that sounds slightly wrong. This weekend, as United made a second-half comeback on the scale of Take That in the Charity Shield, I have to confess that I started to feel slightly like a number 7 on the guide; ‘The smug, self proclaimed ‘expert’ fan’, but this was only for only one reason…Tom Cleverley.

I am lucky enough to ‘get around’ when it comes to watching football, although I am often spotted attending a certain North London clubs matches, I do like to spread my wings, absorb and watch as much football as I possibly can from La Liga to non-league. One ground I like to frequent is that of Watford FC, I don’t go for the pies, ham rolls (they are actually good) or the beer that takes all of half time to get, I like how Watford roll.Because of Watford’s financial status they give first team opportunities to young players, giving them a platform to emerge and carve out a future in the game. This ethos is underpinned by The Harefield Academy as Watford continue to realise the best way to operate is by producing players of their own. Without being blessed with the deep resources of a Leicester City, they also rely heavily on the loan market to add strength and depth to their squad. Manchester United hold Watford in high esteem and over the years have loaned out players to the club, this is when I encountered Tom Cleverley first hand.

When I initially investigated the player I received mixed responses about him, I wondered whether he would be just another Daniel Nardiello or since then a Richard Eckersley…all the potential but never quite makes it. As I saw Cleverley play I was instantly impressed and had a completely opposite opinion to the mutterings that had pretty much consigned Cleverley to a future away from the club. I think a lot of people didn’t know too much and were swayed by his poor injury record which meant his career had been very stop start.

Whilst at Watford during the 2009/10 season, Cleverley put together a solid run of games, becoming one of Watford’s leading goal-scorers and standout performers, scoring 11 goals in 33 appearances before another injury prematurely ended his season -  he went on to be voted Watford’s Player of the Year.

It was watching him at this point when he actually reminded me a lot of Scholes. It wasn’t just due to his similar stature or love of a yellow card (I remember some shocking challenges), his all-round play and tenacity around the pitch seemed to be very similar to the dynamic ginger that lit up the Premier League for so many years.

Last season, on the back of his success at Watford, I had high-hopes for Cleverley at Wigan – I even had him in one of my dream team sides. But for me he did not live up to my expectations. I think he had a solid season but did not become the standout player that I thought he might be in the Wigan side, but Wigan had a tough season. What this did give him is Premier League experience week in, week out and I think we have started to see this pay dividends.

This summer at the under 21’s tournament he was a player that was wasted, instead of being the heartbeat of the team, he was often dispatched in wide areas and in my opinion, disappointed in the competition. The positives have been in pre-season for Manchester United where I thought he was outstanding against Barcelona on the teams US tour, just as he was on the US tour the summer before. He has now gone on to reinforce this with his performance in the Charity Shield.

For those of you that haven’t seen enough of him yet, Cleverley is a tough tackling, classy midfielder, who can pretty much do everything. He is box to box, very good going forward, but exudes class with his passing and set-pieces, he has plenty of technique but generally is very tidy and keeps things simple. What I like about him most is that he has the ability to score goals, which for me, is the sign of great midfielder. He seems to have a striker’s composure and can score every type of goal; free-kicks, long-range, in the box and one-on-ones.

With all the talk this summer of Wesley Sneijder’s arrival at United, I think it would affected the progress of talents like Cleverley who may then miss out on his chance to play more regularly. It is time for Cleverley to emerge and become a player for United, all the talk is of Paul Pogba and Ravel Morrison but in my eyes Cleverley is ready to make the step up.

His performances have not gone unnoticed by those within football and he has been rewarded with a call-up for the full England squad who prepare to take on Holland this week. Whether he gets his chance or not remains to be seen, I have seen rumours he may have to withdraw due to injury but whatever happens take note that Tom Cleverley should be a player for years to come. The same way Wilshere has made his mark, expect Cleverley to be the next as the future of English football evolves once more.

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  1. Jonny United says:

    you must have spoke to some nuggets (Barton) as i have always thought he would be quality. looks exactly the type of player we need for me he has the talent and now needs the consistancy. good video!

  2. Top of the tree says:

    I go Wigan games and the lad can play I tell you. He is a great one for the future of England, hopefully not United as I want him back at DW. He is only young, good for the game and good for him, works had.

  3. Pingback: Manchester United team’s average age is 23? You’re having a laugh… « Club Focus « Football Rascal | For the fans

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