At Old Trafford, It’s Time For A Top Talent To Emerge
Sir Alex has already made a number of steps in the transfer market this summer adding competition for places. However, one place he is yet to add to is the centre of midfield.
Many of Europe’s top talents have been linked with the club as I have previously discussed although, I believe even if Scholes had chosen to continue for another season, a signing in that area would still have been pivotal.
The fact Paul has retired leaves us even lighter in an area I consider to be fundamental on the field to have quality and options. Injuries often occur in midfield. Darren Fletcher has avoided a long spell on the sidelines before last season, although he missed an important part of the season. Anderson’s fitness has never been consistent and if the same situation was to occur next season we would currently only have Michael Carrick and Darren Gibson to rely on.
Gibson’s ability to sustain a place in the United side has always been in question to me and I would not be surprised to see him shipped out this summer. Sunderland seems a likely destination for the Irishman and I believe that to be a club that suits his level more than United. I expect his replacement within the squad to be young Tom Cleverley.
Ever since watching Cleverley in the reserves I have been a fan of his potential. During a period where English football is producing less and less technical midfielders, who can retain the ball and cut open defences, Cleverley is a breath of fresh air. Of course, I am not suggesting that Cleverley is, or ever will be, a replacement for Scholes but there is no doubt in my mind that he is a player of the same mould.
That is something Gibson for example simply is unable to include in his game. Unlike a lot of supporters I consider him to be a good player who is not just a ‘one trick pony’ who can shoot with power from distance. He does have a relaxation on the ball that can be admired but the quality of passing just is not there.
I also do not consider him to be a good enough ball winner who can sit and hold the midfield together so his place in the team is never going to hold longevity. Therefore I feel it would make sense to offload him now as I think the much younger Cleverley has more natural talent and potential.
I was impressed and watched closely as Tom played a major role in helping Wigan secure Premier League survival, having widely been tipped as relegation favourites as the start of the season.
When hearing about his addition into England’s Under-21 side I was excited to see him pitted against the other top young midfielders in Europe. Though at the same time I worried about how the manager would utilise him. Unfortunately Stuart Pearce has always made some questionable managerial decisions, ever since his time managing Manchester City.
His debatable management style continued in these championships when he decided to use use Cleverley on the left side of midfield in their opening match against Spain, who technically superb display was one which England should be trying to emualte.
Instead, in the next match, Cleverley was dropped after England’s midfield was totally outplayed by the technically superior Spanish side. This is not just a grievance against Pearce because he didn’t select a Manchester United player, but more the fact the teams most ‘Spanish’ midfielder was omitted for players such as Michael Mancienne, who is predominantly a defender.
So I urge all United fans to not look at Pearce’s selection in the tournament as evidence that Cleverley, like Gibson, does not have the quality to make the grade as a first time regular at Old Trafford. Instead, they should look at the wider picture and realise that he has that raw talent to prosper under Sir Alex Ferguson’s tutelage over the next few years, having progressed each time he has been sent out on loan.
I don’t see him being a replacement for Scholes at all, but he does have the chance to develop into an important squad player who could indeed become a very good player for us in the future.
About Joseph Maloney
A massive United fan, Joseph has been a season-ticket holder at Old Trafford for the past 5 seasons and is currently studying sports journalism at University. Hoping to succeed in the tough world of football media, Joseph will be writing more often on Can They Score in the coming months, as he hopes to express his passion for the club through his writing.