A Look At The Loanees: Tom Cleverley
Posted by nickogs20 on June 14, 2010
Continuing our series looking at the United youngsters who starred out on loan last season in the words of those who watched them week-in week-out, a trio of Watford fans fill us in on Tom Cleverley’s time with the Hornets…
“With four games to go, ten minutes from full time at home to West Brom, hearts sank as Tom Cleverley was stretched off the Vicarage Road pitch. Winning with ten minutes to play (although going on to concede in the 96th minute) the main concern on fans’ minds was whether or not we would be able to ensure Championship survival with what looked like a serious injury to Cleverley. This emphasized the impact Tom had had on the Watford team this season. His creative ability sparked life to an untalented and clueless midfield, and the combination of Cleverley and Lansbury was nothing short of inspirational. It is clear he has a bright future ahead of him – a hard-working, gifted team-player, Tom was ever-present and was often the only highlight in an otherwise disappointing spell of games this season.”
“The yellow army have done it again – picked up a bargain from Manchester… No, not Danny Webber or even Craig Cathcart. Let me explain. Watford have, in the past, relied heavily on loan signings. So what I hear you ask. It matters to us! This season in particular one footballer has stepped up and quite literally led the Hornets to safety.
Watford have had a season of two halves. Up until around February, the team had performed well, looking at a possible (but very unlikely) sixth place. Unfortunately the following four months slightly backfired, and but for Tom Cleverley, I am certain that relegation would have been a real possibility.
Of course, we knew that arriving down the M6 from Manchester, Cleverley was a bright prospect – he isn’t the first loanee we’ve had from Man Utd. From the moment he scored in the first game, it was clear that the 19 year old had the physical and mental attributes to be a fighter and, more importantly, a winner. It seemed that the hunger and desire that is installed in a Man Utd player to win matches was running through his veins.
His game is a combination of pure tenacity and raw footballing talent. It must be tough to play against him, he always wants to win and get the the ball first. In ‘the most competitive league in the world,’ in which belief and passion are perhaps the most crucial attributes, Cleverley fits in rather well. I have no doubt in proclaiming that within three years, he will be playing top flight football for a major footballing force, whether this be the red half of Manchester or not. His talent goes beyond wanting to be a winner – he is technically excellent, has a range of passing beyond anyone else at Watford and he gets goals – he is the all-round package.
In conclusion, to all of those debt-ridden, over-financed, poorly run football clubs – take a leaf out of the championship and dive into the loan market. Who knows, you may even be as lucky as us and get the next Tom Cleverley.”
“Cleverley was a big success at Watford, where he was mainly employed as an attacking wide midfielder with a lot of freedom to go looking for the ball. His displays highlighted a good awareness of his surroundings. With a high technical ability (compared to Championship standard) he often looked to beat his man. Incisive on the break and quite quick he enjoyed both running at defenders and passing through balls past them. His best performance was home to QPR in a 3-1 victory, where he scored the third goal after being put clear through and beat the keeper. Working closely with the young Arsenal playmaker Henri Lansbury, a good connection and bond was created. This was mainly noticed when either Lansbury or Cleverley wasn’t playing, causing the others performance to suffer. There are a few sides to his game that need improving though. His tackling isn’t great and matched with what appears to be a short fuse, it lead to some ugly situations. Over all Cleverley played superbly throughout the season. He scored and set up goals as well as acting as a constant threat to defences with a strong work rate.”
It would be remiss of us while canvassing the views of Watford fans to not get word on Craig Cathcart’s spell at Vicarage Road in the first half of the season. The Ulsterman had a difficult time in the second tier before prematurely returning to Old Trafford due to injury.
“As for his fellow Man United loan-signing, Craig Cathcart, there is more to be desired. He came into a defence depleted by injury, and hence expectations were high, however on more than one occasion the young Irishman failed to deliver. His lack of experience at a competitive level was clear for all to see, and many mistakes were routinely exploited, costing us more than the occasional goal. With his commanding presence, one would hope that more experience may turn him into a hot prospect, but as of this season, he was left trailing in the wake of the midfield menace that is Tom Cleverley.”
“Didn’t have as strong a season as Cleverley, having a nightmare start to his Watford loan. Generally he played worse alongside Adrian Mariappa who isn’t the most vocal of players. Whenever he was alongside Taylor or the very experienced American Demerit his performances improved. He’s very good in the air and has a good anticipation of the flight of the ball. This led to him being a big threat in the oppositions half. He appeared a little slow though, which against fast attacks often put him in trouble, his positioning will probably improve to counter this.”