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Manchester United’s Controversial Tom Cleverley

The word best used to describe Tom Cleverley by most United fans this season is a word that is probably best not used when writing this piece. In general, the frustration is born out of the fact the ‘young Englishman’ offered so much potential, and that potential has not quite been fulfilled by the not quite so young Englishman anymore. Reports have emerged that Everton may be willing to take the £15 million Old Trafford villain away  from Old Trafford come the summer and most red’s will probably be grateful to see the back of him.

Everyone loves a scapegoat though, and United defiantly have a sprinkling of contenders this season, with Tom Cleverley right up there in representation of the playing staff. Ask yourself this however, if United wanted to enter the market and buy a 24 year old England international, would they have to pay more than £15 million? Of course the club would, so why should they settle for that. Let’s not pretend that Everton didn’t hold the club to ransom last summer, depriving the reds of £27 million pounds for a certain insanely, unstable Belgian midfielder. Swapping one for another over the course of a year and also being out of pocket following the process would just not be good business.


The question now has to be asked as in to why is Tom Cleverley the scapegoat? Most reds will find no problem in giving you an answer. He only passes sideways and backwards, he never puts in a tackle, he’s utterly careless on the ball and overall he is not good enough to wear the Manchester United shirt. The list goes on and on and it’s becoming far too easy to kick the England midfielder when he’s down. The player has been subject to unnecessary abuse by sections of the support this season and as for his England career; well that lies in the balance after a number of simple-minded, utterly dense England fans created an online campaign in order to stop United’s number 23 climbing aboard that plane to Brazil.

Loyalty is rare in football these days and perhaps that is a point to be remembered when in discussion over Tom Cleverley. Of course he has never had an opportunity to move away from United and nor to is he undoubtedly good enough to go anywhere but down the food chain from the reds. He resembles a good squad player however, one that will not moan when placed upon the bench and one that has always, and will always act with complete professionalism for a club in which he quite clearly takes pride in representing. Is it really such a bad thing to have a decent, 24 year old England international among the ranks as a squad player at United? A lot of fans may not have one ounce of problem with this in fairness, and as long as the club reinforce the midfield during this much anticipated summer then this shouldn’t be an issue.


Tom Cleverley’s even most ardent supporters will struggle to put together an argument that the midfielder hasn’t put in some fairly dismal displays in a red shirt this season. The player is not alone there though, and Michael Carrick for example has hardly covered himself in any glory. Supporters lament that Cleverley only passes sideways and his creativity department is in absolute famine, but then United don’t exactly have any creative, out and out midfielders. Some may need to just remember that it’s not the players fault himself that he continually get’s picked, he must be doing something right in training and United don’t exactly have a host of many other options in their ammunition.

last Tuesday’s utterly spineless display in the Manchester derby presented an opportunity for supporters to give Cleverley yet another barrage of abuse after the number 23 was hauled off at half time. The central midfielder was deployed on the wing for goodness sake, can you imagine Michael Carrick for example suddenly turning into a natural wide man when coerced into this position. If anything it evokes how poor the wingers are that United posses in their locker room and the fact that the player is willing to play out of position in order to help his team. To be frank, even he must know that playing out wide will not and did not aid any chances he has of going to Brazil.


There is no suggestion that Tom Cleverley is good enough to start week in week out for United, but when knocking him down all the time it can be forgotten that he does possess certain assets. He is United’s most energetic central midfielder without a shadow of a doubt, and whether effective on the ball or not for Moyes’s side, he doesn’t half cover a lot of ground. Also, despite playing continual sideway passes, on rare occasions this season it has proved valuable when United are striving to retain possession. The midfielder also looks to get United playing at a quick tempo, and although not with the same influence as Michael Carrick in terms of controlling the tempo, he is a damned sight better in situations when a higher temp is needed. The player’s best outing in a United shirt probably came in United’s 3-0 win at Villa Park earlier in the season, with the Englishman winning a good ratio of tackles in midfield as well as getting United attacking Villa on a  quick tempo, not to mention bagging a rather nice goal for himself.

There is no point suggesting that one good stand out performance alone or those attributes mentioned make him anywhere near good enough to a regular for Manchester United, but they do need to be weighed in when concluding any structured argument.  Those who hate Cleverley more than likely will always hate Tom Cleverley. The same haters are also the one’s who would never even comprehend that the player’s stunning strike away to Newcastle last season was a shot not a cross. Probably best we don’t start that argument! Come the summer and United invest in a reinforced midfield, then would it really be such a bad thing to have a committed, satisfactory, international footballer who relishes playing for the club sat in reserve? Manchester United would have to stump up a whole heap of riches for a similar levelled English player, so why should the club accept anything less themselves.

What are your thoughts on Tom Cleverley? Comment in the section below.

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13 replies on “Manchester United’s Controversial Tom Cleverley”

He`ll do a job as a squad player.Great article well thought out.Nicky butt didn’t set the world alight but also never complained.So id give the lad another season at least.

Good article however he is in the Darren fletcher Catergory. Ignore his illness and forget sentiment. Fletcher has never been good enough for United like Ji Sung Park he had a ‘big game player’ ‘ Fergies go to man in big games’ but what about the other 35/36 games when he goes missing and just isn’t good enough.

I remember watching Flethcer and Carrick play like crabs week in week out to scared to commit forward in case they lost the ball. Stats show Cleverly, fFetcher and Carrick are great at retaining the ball but when your un pressured in midfield passing back to the defence it is not really a true picture of there game or realistic to the say the least.

An ageing Scholes came back embarrassed all around him and Even Giggs against Olympiacos showed he can still do more in central mid than these younger players.

We need class and Cleverly can fit in at home against the lower teams it’s just we ve struggled against everyone this year which makes these average players like Smalling, Evans, Cleverly, Valencia , Young etc etc reliant on good coaching and discipline and in Moyes at the moment we don’t have that on a consistent basis.

Zaha looked a world beater pre season didn’t set the world on fire in the Charity shield and that was his United season over before it got started. Obviously I believe he has an attitude but ability wise he should of been available for more games, Nick Powell looks more like a real English talent but I can see him being sold in the summer.

A lot of the average players we knew Fergie got that extra 10% out of are now playing at there true level. And that is the managers job to make these players believe they can go up against Toure , Aguero , Suarez and compete and out play them , and that’s where despite them not being good enough , Its also David Moyes failing on the players part not just there average ability.

Great article and looking forward to reading other people’s thoughts on this. My opinion sitting in the Stretford End. Cheers Chris

Players like Tom Cleverley are not needed anymore. Football has changed immensely nowadays, if we are to compete with the best in Europe. He needs to adapt to the modern game. Both him and Carrick are one dimensional.
I would rather have Ross Barkely as a squad player than him.

I can’t believe any team would pay even 5 million for Cleverley so saying that we should ask for more is hilarious. Cleverley is worth 1-3 million and no more.

Clev certainly isn’t the cause of uniteds problems but he defo isn’t the answer but moyes throwing him in at the deep end against city was the last thing he needed the crowd was on his back from the off.

cleverley i feel is a player that has an ability to adapt to those around him. at first he was very mediocre on the wing vs ciy, but he then became better throughout the game. not his natural position, but he tried and did more from than midfield than carrick or fellaini.

cleverley has always played alongside carrick, and carrick is the king of useless passes this season! take out carrick, midfield far more mobile and more goals can come.

Having to play alongside Carrick is a job and a half for anyone, let alone Cleverley. If Scholes were still there and Cleverley was with him, he would be doing a decent enough support role and not look out of place.

Cleverley’s misfortune is part of the fallout of not replacing Scholes and continually playing Carrick.

Come on now its carrick fault lol I remember when carrick came to united and turned united midfield into creative midfield of course with scholsy but its age which differs nowadays players like Ashley young and cleverly valencia aren’t needed bcz they are old fashioned player we need creativity and player that can change games like rooney I think we should focus on kagawa,mata and rooney and add two midfielders like kroos and Barkley and we will be much better

Great article. I think we should keep cleverley in united. In my opinion, his role is unseen. But, sometimes so important. And i’am sure he will develop soon. If there are many club want him, that indicate he lot of potential. The problem is how to make him play at his best. And i am sure moyes will make it.

Excellent article as always and cannot understand how backwards Cleverley has gone.Up to his long lay off he was the man come good and now he isn’t a shadow of his former self. Do United stick with him? I would say yes and rid United of Fellaini. At least Cleverley has time on his side.

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