Manchester United: Why Cleverley, Evans and Welbeck Must Shine This Season
Manchester United have a Britain-can-make-it look about them nowadays.
Tom Cleverley, Jonny Evans and Danny Welbeck are three of the club's future generation, and all three are homegrown and proud—some of the UK's finest.
They have each had shining moments for the club, but United fans will be hoping that their greatest days still lie ahead.
To say there is great pressure on Tom Cleverley's shoulders would be no exaggeration.
He has long been touted as Paul Scholes' natural successor—the roaming playmaker who bridges the gap between defence and attack.
Granted, there is justification in the similarities, especially in comparing him to the Scholes of old who played all over the pitch and was capable of banging in close to 20 goals a season.
But it is time for Cleverley to relinquish the role of the free-wheeling subordinate.
It must be this season in which he proves himself worthy of taking over the reins of the United midfield from Scholes, who will almost certainly not play beyond next May.
He will have the perfect dueling partner in Shinji Kagawa, too.
Both suit the other's game perfectly, playing the kind of zippy passes that made United such a dominant force in the early parts of last season.
If the two can stay fit, fans may not have seen the last of the 8-2 and 5-0 scorelines.
Jonny Evans' path to the United first team hasn't exactly been conventional.
He has faced as much criticism and doubt as anyone currently in the squad, and yet he's persevered, last season becoming a deserved mainstay in the title-chasing team.
In the past, he has been a walking liability—a weak-in-the-air, penalty-surrendering burden in an otherwise reliable group of central defenders.
But with Nemanja Vidic's injury came one last opportunity to shine for the Northern Irishman and, alongside Rio Ferdinand, consequently formed a surprisingly effective partnership.
With United's captain now back and fully fit, Evans will have to make the most of his chances, especially if he wants to be considered Rio Ferdinand's long-term heir apparent.
If he doesn't, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones will be eagerly waiting in the wings.
Danny Welbeck must find it hard not to take Sir Alex Ferguson's pursuit of Robin van Persie personally.
Does it suggest that the United boss isn't yet completely sold on the lanky striker as an automatic first-teamer right now?
He certainly distinguished himself at the recent European Championships, scoring a vital goal for his country and excelling in his all-around play.
His touch and passing are improving with every game, even if his finishing still needs work.
But at United, he still has a way to go.
Next season he must nearly double his previous tally of 12 to solidify his spot in the team—a tall order yes, but a requirement he is certainly capable of fulfilling.
There you have it—three potential keys to the future of Manchester United Football Club.
Sure, their greatest days still lie ahead, but for each, I would suggest that those greatest days begin as soon as possible.
If not, United have always been quick to find an alternative future.
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