How Clever is Sir Alex?
On Friday, Sir Alex put to end all speculation regarding whether or not Tom Cleverley will be joining Wigan or Newcastle by clearing stating that Cleverley was actually going nowhere.
Cleverley clearly did enough to impress in the pre-season tour and is going to get a chance at establishing himself in the first team at United. So why did Sir Alex decide to keep Tom Cleverley at Old Trafford? Is this the right move?
Cleverley joined Manchester United as a 15-year-old trainee in July 2005. The following season he moved up into the Academy side before graduating to the reserves and signing his professional forms. In 2008 he was nominated for the Denzil Haroun Reserve Player of the Year award, due to his excellent performances in the reserves. He was called up to the Manchester United first team on 24 July 2008, for the remainder of their tour of South Africa and scored on his debut against the Kaizer Chiefs. In January, Cleverley joined Leicester City for the remainder of the 2008–09 season. He went on to make 15 appearances for then and scored 2 goals before his loan was cut short due to a shoulder injury while playing against Colchester United. Cleverley received a medal as Leicester went on to win the League One title that year. That same year along with Corry Evans and James Chester he was nominated for the Denzil Haroun Reserve Player of the Year award again.
The next season saw Cleverley join Watford on a season long loan, Cleverley made complete use of this opportunity as he showed how good he was by keeping afloat a sinking Watford team and eventually saving them from relegation with some scintillating performances. He made 35 appearances for the Hornets, scoring 11 goals, all while playing from midfield. His season with them unfortunately came to a premature end as he suffered a knee ligament injury in April 2010, but his contribution to the team was so significant that he went on to win the team’s Player of the Season award.
Tom’s greatest strength is his versatility, he can play anywhere in Midfield, and he also used to play as a full back during his academy days. Tom is good with both feet and is a good passer of the ball. He’s known to make clever runs into the box and which explains his high goal tally. Tom’s best position would seem to as an attacking midfielder and he does have the attributes to do well there. Tom also has a good long shot and is a pretty good finisher; he has excellent ball control, which he displayed with the goal against the All-Stars. Sir Alex’s decision to not send him out on loan should be a massive boost to Tom’s confidence and he should be looking for every chance to prove his worth to the manager and fans.
With Cleverley staying, it looks almost certain United won’t be buying anymore players in the transfer window. Sir Alex’s trust in Cleverley is justified as he does have the potential to be a very useful player for the senior squad. Cleverley is most likely to be initially used as a substitute, but if he continues to impress, he’s certain to start a few games along the season. United currently are missing Anderson and Hargreaves to long term injuries while Carrick is a doubt for the start of season. This should probably be the best chance Cleverley might get to cement a place in Sir Alex’s plans for the long term.
Whether Tom impresses or not will be down to his ability to rise to the occasion, but from what he has shown so far, it seems to be a very smart move by Sir Alex to keep Tom.
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