Date: 13th March 2013 at 3:36am
Written by:
Who says white men can't jump?

Who says white men can’t jump?

Remember the time when Reds used to debate as to whether Michael Carrick was actually good enough for Manchester United, a time when the likes of Paul Scholes, Anderson and even Owen Hargreaves could hear their name sung every week while the former Spurs man suffered in unappreciated silence?

Now though it’s pretty much established throughout the entire United supporting Universe that Carrick is the greatest midfielder in the history of association football and should have his own statue in front of the Trinity one, made from of all the trophies he’s won and painted in the blood of all his doubters.

One player who’s rapidly emulating Carrick in the dividing if not performance stakes, is United ‘youngster’ Tom Cleverley. The Bradford-born midfielder  was being hailed as the new shining light in English football following a decent international performance against a decidedly average Moldova team. Following England’s five nil win Roy Hodgson somewhat over-excitedly claimed: “Tom Cleverley, I suppose you could say, is an attacking midfield player but he’s an attacking midfield player in the same way Cesc Fabregas is.”

While that statement may be true in the sense that saying Clint Hill is a defender in the same way that Nemanja Vidic is- meaning that both fulfil similar roles, despite being miles apart in ability- it now seems a little daft to be mentioning Fabregas and Cleverley in the same way.

Since that impressive outing for the national side, Cleverley has played an important part of United’s march to a 12 point lead at the top of the table, without ever reaching the level that’s made him a definite starter for some of the bigger games.

The biggest criticism of Cleverley seems to be that he doesn’t fulfil a specific role as a midfielder, that his attributes tend to be more ‘jack of all trades master of none.’ Cleverley doesn’t break up the play or have the range of passing of  a Carrick, he doesn’t have the attacking qualities of a Shinji Kagawa, nor can he carry the ball and move past people like we’ve seen Anderson do in the past.

What the England international does offer is energy, a good touch and a willingness to make himself available for passes as well as getting involved in attacks and closing down the opposition. Part of the problem for Cleverley is the pedestal he was put on with the media over-hype following the England game, a hype which all but died a mere four days later when the national side drew with the Ukraine and the United midfielder was subbed on the hour.

Since that night in September Cleverley has played eleven more times for United in the league scoring twice and grabbing an assist, although we shouldn’t get too distracted by stats like that as players like Carrick and to a lesser extent Paul Scholes have shown that goals and assists don’t always tell us just how influential a player has been.

Cleverley still hasn’t convinced a lot of Reds he’s ‘United class’ and the problem for him could be that he’s running out of time to fully persuade the manager he should be a regular in the side.

I know Cleverley was picked for the recent Champions League game against Madrid, but would he have been on the pitch had Phil Jones been fit? I’m not so sure.

I don’t for one minute think that Cleverley will be sold, but with Summer approaching and the distinct possibility that Sir Alex will delve into the transfer market to buy another central midfielder, not too mention the emergence of Phil Jones, the need to accommodate the gifted Kagawa and the murmurings that Wayne Rooney’s future may lie deeper than the attack line, the next few months could be vital to the former academy player’s prospects.

Should Cleverley fail to  have a real impact going into the final furlong of the season, then the doubters may have reason to believe he’s destined to remain something of a bit part player and maybe see his chances become more limited. If however we see the Cleverley that took us all by storm at the beginning of the last campaign then maybe the man who’s yet to reach 50 games for the Reds – at the not so tender age of 23- could be the answer the the midfield question we’ve all got sick of asking.

It’s a simple question, is he good enough to be a regular? Answer it below if you can be bothered:

For more Red views follow me on twitter @RFFH


29 responses to “Time Running Out For Tom Cleverley?”

  1. Andy Matthews says:

    @Dave Manc – Sneijder wouldn’t have been the answer to the midfield conundrum anymore than Kagawa is. He’s mislabelled as a midfielder when he’s essentially a no. 10; he isn’t going to track back, or control a game from deep, or shuffle round the midfield like Scholesy dictating the game. He would need to be played behind a striker, with no defensive responsibilities, meaning we would still need to find a couple of midfielders to sit in behind him. I agree that reinforcements are needed but i’m constantly baffled when Sneijder’s name comes up

    As for Cleverley, i think he finds himself in a similar position to Fletcher when he broke through, in that he doesn’t really have a defined MF role, but his energy is undoubtedly a useful option to liven up a game, given the lack of dynamism in the other options – Carrick, Giggs, Scholes.

    Now and again Anderson hits a good run (inevitably curtailed by injury) and my hopes increase for him, but he simply doesn’t seem to be learning from his mistakes, and he gives the ball away far far too often. I think it’s time to cut our losses on that one, sadly.

    In comparison, Cleverley is pretty neat and tidy, and retains possession well. I have to admit i didn’t think he was up to it before this season, but i do think he has something and is worth persevering with for another season at least.

  2. Sparkz says:

    Absolute tosh in my opinion. It wasn’t too long ago that Fergie said he saw him as potentially one of the best midfielders in Britain.

    After RVP, Carrick and Rafael – Cleverley’s been our best player this season. Somebody had the cheek to call him immobile – that’s a joke. He’s given us real energy and pressing in midfield,as well as the ability to play quick, one-two touch passes. Watch him, he rarely takes more than 2 touches on the ball.

    Yes he was shocking against Chelsea, like a lot of players, but that was fatigue more than anything.

  3. Yusuf says:

    Who is this CM people crave? who is available to buy? 5/6 years ago fans wanted carrick gone and now he’d walk in to any top team across europe. fans want a gerrard type player, its what the public and english love. we fell short in europe because of a poor ref decision, the team considered better than us (madrid) did they boss us?!
    people need to learn to be patient, if you were here 20 years ago the likes of giggs, scholes, becks, butt would never have been given a chance in the team.

    • pjch says:

      Yusaf I have been watching and supporting United since the mid 1960’s and believe me United need a couple of midfield players so that we can compete at the highest level.Its fine for this team to compete against most teams in the PL but when we play better opposition we are lacking. I watched Barca play Ac Milan last night and saw how a midfield should play. Sorry to say but in the modern game patience runs thin and its about time SAF did something about this problem. No more excuses please.

  4. Eusebius says:

    We need today is abo midfielder, a player like wanyama,erickson and lsko

  5. Adam Brasco says:

    The guy is another average midfielder, slightly better than Anderson, fletch and obviously more mobile than scholes, the biggest blunder was not swapping Dembele for Berba plus cash , we would be even further ahead in the prem and wouldn’t of got overrun in the cup v Chelsea.

  6. Andy says:

    Clever is a good player and he wull get better. Is he going to win us the European Cup, thats a different question I guess. I think he had a poor game against Chelsea. I won’t accept fatigue because he’s 23 and should be ready to play 50-60 games in a season.

    I do feel he doesn’t do enough to warrant his place in the team. I think he should be scoring and creating more goals for the team. It’s too early to write him off, like many did with Fletcher when he was young.

  7. richard says:

    Wrong Question! The right question would be–Why do you still question if he is the real deal. He’s the real deal in the same way that Xavi is the real deal. No, I’m not suggesting that he is United’s Xavi. No I’ll leave that to Rodgers. What seems to go unappreciated is the fact that when he is in the same MF with Carrick he becomes the link, the conduit between the back 4 and forwards. He rarely gets caught in possession. He finds the open man–early. He supports the player on the ball. He has quick feet around the box. No he doesn’t spray 30 yard passes but that’s what we have Carrick for. Xavi doesn’t make 30 yard passes–he acts as the conduit- he links well with defenders and forwards–he supports the man on the ball. Sound familiar.

  8. Chich says:

    Tom cleverly is the most average player in the world!! He can’t run with ball, can’t shoot, can’t give killer pass, can’t tackle, ALL HE CAN DO IS LAY A SIMPLE PASS OFF, which frankly anyone donkey could do!

    All ppl who rate him no nothing about football, and if they think they do they are rubbish like 99.9% of all English players.
    Anderson is the only way forward, he can pass, tackle, run with ball, make things happen which cleverly can only dream off,


  9. kunaal says:

    Tom is a player in the making give the boy a chance dont judge him yet

  10. rax says:

    Typical knee jerk nonsense you see from fans after their team has 1 bad day at the office.
    We’ve already seen it about De Gea, and even Rooney… That’s just this season.
    Clevs is one of a handful of players at United truly happy playing give and go football, in tight situations, and under pressure. A player that can bring out the best in Kagz, Nani and Welbz.
    But I’m guessing some of you think we should get rid of all these too.