Manchester United: 5 Reasons Tom Cleverley Will Break into First Team
Over the past three seasons, Manchester United's Tom Cleverley has been honing his skills on loan spells at Leicester City, Watford and Wigan Athletic and has found great success at each of the three clubs he has been loaned out to.
In the 2008-09 season, Cleverley joined Leicester City on loan. In his only season with the Leicester City, Cleverley helped lead to Foxes to promotion from League One to the Championship. In 15 games, he tallied two goals.
2009-10 was Cleverley's breakout season as a professional, after he joined Watford on a season-long loan. The Englishman enjoyed a season of brilliant form, scoring 11 goals in 35 appearances for the Horns en route to winning the team's Player of the Season award.
After back-to-back successful loan spells in League One and the Championship, Cleverley earned himself a "promotion" to the Premier League.
Sir Alex Ferguson somewhat surprisingly sent the midfielder on loan to Wigan Athletic, despite several impressive displays on United's US Tour in 2010.
At Wigan, Cleverley found himself in an unusual position, he was battling to avoid relegation. Ultimately, Roberto Martinez and Wigan were able to stay in the Premier League, and Cleverley was a big reason why. In 25 games for the Latics, Cleverley bagged four goals.
Once again, Cleverley join United on their US Tour in 2011. This time around Cleverley looks to have sealed a place on United's 25-man roster. But can he seal a place in United's starting XI?
Here are the five reasons that the England U-21 international will secure regular first-team football in 2011-12.
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After a rather negative showing in the first half of the Community Shield, Carrick was substituted in favor of Cleverley, who may have won a start versus West Bromwich Albion after a very impressive attacking display.
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United fans have not seen much of Tom Cleverley, but his performances versus Barcelona and Manchester City this summer really showed his class.
After United's 2-1 win over European rivals Barcelona, Fergie was encouraged by Cleverley display.
"Tom Cleverley, physically, isn't the strongest lad but he's wily and he has a great idea of the game. He's a good footballer and I thought he was our best player tonight.
"His discipline was terrific, he's a good passer, he has good eyes. He's a big possibility to start for us at the start of the season."
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Cleverley's versatility is one of his best attributes. He can play either as a right or left winger, a centre midfielder or even as a support striker.
Cleverley seems unlikely to play as a full-time winger this season, with Ashley Young, Nani and Antonio Valencia ahead of him on the depth chart, meaning that his best chance to crack United's starting XI would be to play as a centre midfielder.
At the moment, he and Anderson seem to be the club's best option in the centre of the pitch, and they could likely find themselves partnering up in the Red Devils opening match versus West Bromwich Albion.
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In an exclusive live chat interview on ManUtd.com, Cleverley revealed that his lack of physicality when he was a youngster used to get him down.
“But youth team coach Paul McGuinness and Eric Harrison told me not to worry, stick at it and your physical development will come. That was good advice.”
Over the years Cleverley has grown much tougher, both physically and mentally. His confidence is at all all-time high and he has big aspirations for his 2011-12 season.
“I'm always looking to get better. I want to get faster and stronger, I want to improve my left foot and my heading ability too.
“I'd like to be able to control games a bit more, perhaps learn how to slow the game down a bit, instead of playing at a fast pace all the time.
“Since I was 18 I've progressed from League One to the Championship to the Premier League. Hopefully I can go up to the Champions League this time around.
“Chris Smalling did well last year and played quite a few European games. I don't doubt I can do it.”
Desire to Win Trophies
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After playing a big part in United 3-2 comeback win over their "noisy neighbours" Manchester City, Cleverley told MUTV that he is keen on winning more trophies this season.
Cleverley desire to win trophies at United gives him the extra motivation he needs to succeed. Ultimately, these traits make Tom Cleverley an ideal fit to take charge of the centre midfield job at Old Trafford.
“Hopefully there are many more to come and this is just the start. As a young lad you see all of your heroes climbing up the Wembley steps so it was nice to do it too. Hopefully this is just the start.
“It’s great to get the win, especially against your local rivals. Hopefully we will be back here winning the League Cup in a few months, but we’ll concentrate on the league for now."