Make no mistake: Tom Cleverley still has to improve in a lot of areas—his physique, long-range passing, crossing and being a formidable presence in midfield. However, it is certain that he will blossom into a world-class midfielder. Having established himself firmly in the first-team squad over the last two seasons, the only natural trajectory for the Englishman is upward.
He has developed steadily and will continue to grow in stature and confidence. As the midfield generals—Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes and Darren Fletcher—age, it will be Tom Cleverley at the heart of the midfield to take up the duties of powering United through.
Here are five reasons why Manchester United should build a team around him.
Personality and Work-Ethic
Let this quote sink in for a while:
Every morning I wake up and think how lucky I am to be playing for the team which all my boyhood heroes played for and for my country. I’m a big believer that if you work hard enough you can achieve as much as you want. That hard work will carry on and hopefully I’ll be sitting here next season with a few bits of silverware.
Like the majority of players bred at Old Trafford, Tom Cleverley has a very modest view of himself. The degree of humility is the same you observe in consummate professionals like Paul Scholes, Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher.
Furthermore, if you analyze the quote a bit further, he states how he is a big believer of working hard. Cleverley is United through and through. He is aware of the expectations placed upon him, and he is equally aware of the work ethic required to meet these expectations.
On the pitch, Cleverley not only fulfills his offensive duties, but he also does not shy away from his defensive ones. He is not complacent in tracking back and making crucial tackles and interceptions.
Cleverley has the skill set required to complement his work ethic. He may be weak aerially and a bit inept at crossing, but he more than makes up for it.
His abilities on the ball cannot be questioned. He has great positional awareness for a relatively inexperienced midfielder. He knows how to pick out teammates and create space for them with quick but effective passes.
He also has great vision and is an excellent passer of the ball—Cleverly possesses one of the highest pass percentages in the Premier League. He is very dynamic and is a player who sets the tempo of the game. He moves on to good positions to receive the passes and releases the ball quickly.
This works in the system that utilizes the wingers efficiently like Manchester United, but as United look forward to the upcoming years, it is clear that 4-2-3-1 is the way forward. Therefore, he does have to grow a bit in confidence and try to attempt “killer” passes.
Cleverley impressed Roberto Martinez so much during his loan spell at Wigan that Martinez still sings praises of the youngster. He recently stated:
He can play in many positions and he is happy to be in one-v-one situations offensively and defensively, that's where he's got real variation. Sometimes it can be a negative to be able to play in a number of positions. Some players are a jack of all trades but not special in any of them. Tom is special in what he does, while understanding other roles within the team just as well. But if you were to ask him what is his best position, I would say central midfield. And I think Manchester United always saw him as that – even while he was here. . . . I have said it before, when he was with us, that his tactical ability is not normal for a player of his age in this country. He is someone who could easily fit into the Dutch or Spanish way of playing quite easily, such is his technical ability and awareness.
As United move toward more fluidity in their formations, a player of the mold of Cleverley is of immense value.
If you witnessed the game against Reading, Wayne Rooney stood out from all other players. He was deployed in a multitude of positions, yet he contributed immensely both offensively and defensively. Tom Cleverley offers such a level of versatility to United.
Tom Cleverley is Manchester United through and through.
He joined Manchester United at the tender age of 12. After coming from Bradford City, he slowly progressed up the ranks. The kid showed great promise and as a result started earning plaudits for his performances, which eventually led to him being an established member in the first-team squad.
It is always great to see a player who has a potential to become world-class to have been brought up the “Manchester United” way. Building your team around such a product serves as a source of inspiration for future youth.
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