If Manchester United are truly restricted by the omnipotence of their debt as anti-Glazer protesters believe, the former Premier League champions may be forced to look on at the youth system and the youngsters progressing through the reserves, currently overseen by Norwegian legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, for future security.
So, discounting those who have already demonstrated their competence in the first team – players such as Rafael, Macheda, Obertan et al – who is Manchester United’s next big prospect on whom their future might hang should debt become insurmountable?
Currently, the name on many lips around Old Trafford is Newcastle target Tom Cleverley.
Tom, now aged 20, joined Manchester United as a 15-year-old and progressed through the United ranks at a promising pace.
He made his first appearance for the under-18’s in his first season with the club and went on to make 8 more that year. He quickly became a regular in the set-up and, after joining the club in 2005, made his first reserve team appearance in 2007.
Unfortunately, injury halted his progress that year. The versatile midfielder was on the sidelines for around 6 months before returning at the start of the following season.
However, with Cleverley back in the team – often as captain in the absence of Sam Hewson, the reserve side went onto win the Lancashire Senior Cup and Manchester Senior cup that season and Cleverley was singled out for praise by numerous coaches. Cleverley narrowly missed out on the Reserve Player of the Year award that season, losing out to teammate Richard Eckersley, who is now at Burnley.
Cleverley joined Leicester City on loan at the back end of the 2008-2009 season, where he scored twice in 15 games before suffering shoulder injury against Colchester United.
Undeterred, the youngster joined Waford for the 2009-2010 season following his recovery where he became an instant hit. After scoring late into his debut game against promotion-chasers Nottingham Forest, coming off the bench late into the game to do so, the midfielder went from strength to strength.
Swapping from left-midfield to right-midfield, Cleverley scored again on his home debut several days later and managed to notch up an impressive total of 11 during his tenure at Vicarage Road, providing the assists for five more.
Incredibly, despite his season ending prematurely thanks to picking up a knee ligament injury, Cleverley was honoured with being voted as Watford’s Player of the Season.
The youngster, who has now appeared six times for the England U-21 team, has joined the team in the USA an he is understandably optimistic about his chances of breaking into the first team in the coming season.
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