Date: 25th September 2011 at 6:42pm
Written by:

Tom Cleverley

The United midfielder is struggling to be fit for the Norwich game

Yesterday’s one all draw at the Britannia Stadium, almost seemed like it belonged as part of last season’s away form. Taking the lead, then failing to add to it, a goal which came from some poor marking and an uninspired performance in the middle of the park.

Darren Fletcher may be getting back to his full fitness but in terms of creativity you’re not likely to get much from the Scottish midfielder, his talents lie more in breaking up the opposition’s attack rather than starting United’s.

Anderson has now had two poor performances on the trot after a superb start and it’s vital that the Brazilian rediscovers his form if United are going to continue to operate with a two-man central midfield.

Tom Cleverley’s injury at Bolton didn’t seem to de-rail United too much as the Reds destroyed Owen Coyle’s men then put Chelsea to the sword. However, if we’re brutally honest, things haven’t quite been as rosy at United as they were prior to Cleverley’s injury.

The second half performance against Chelsea, not to mention the trip to Benfica then yesterday’s showing have proven how much United miss the energy and creativity of Cleverley- not to mention how Anderson seems to shine more with the youngster alongside him.

Many pundits will look at Wayne Rooney’s absence, or the injury to Chicharito as the main reason for United’s failure to beat Stoke and while they are both valid points, I’d argue that Cleverley’s was another major factor. It was a physical game, but Cleverley has shown, in the tough division of the Championship that he can mix it up and isn’t easily bullied, a point many Wigan fans highlighted last season.

It’s easy when you have the likes of Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick to come into the side, to be lulled into a false sense of security, thinking United must surely be able to beat practically any Premier League side.

It’s worth remembering just how much of a difference Cleverley made in the Community Sheild, how he was able to inject the United side with a bit of zest and artistry.

I’m not always certain that United need a defensive midfielder for all away games, I think we can be guilty of maybe showing some sides too much respect and not realising the importance of having a Chicharito or a Danny Welbeck in the starting line up. This is a view that Sir Alex Ferguson shared this season as for the first time in what seemed like decades United reverted to a more orthodox 4-4-2 formation -although such was the total football -esque style of play at times in could have been a 0-0-10 set up.

I’ve argued that Cleverley is United class for over a year now and am confident he could be a future great. These past few performances have simply showed that while United have quality all over the pitch, a little bit of craft from Cleverley in the middle has been sorely missed.

The sooner we see Cleverley back in a red shirt the better- hopefully he can bring put the best not just in his midfield partner but also the rest of the team as well.

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