Football

Cleverley thrilled with major role

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Manchester United youngster Tom Cleverley is taking his emergence in the first team at Old Trafford in his stride and admits he is flattered by comparisons with Wesley Sneijder and Paul Scholes.

The England Under-21 international made his first-team debut against Manchester City in the Community Shield in the curtain raiser for the new season, and has featured in wins over West Bromwich Albion, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal.

But Cleverley, who also earned his first England call-up for the friendly with Netherlands and the Euro 2012 qualifiers with Bulgaria and Wales, is refusing to get ahead of himself.

"Getting into the team has always been my target and I've done that now. Maybe it's happened a little bit more quickly than some people expected, but I have to carry on working hard now if I want to stay in the team," he said.

"It's a bit strange when people are talking about you and you see your name in the papers, but in my head I'm still the same footballer who was sent out on loan to Wigan last year. The only difference is that I'm turning out for Manchester United now.

"I don't feel any extra pressure. I'm just coming to training every day and playing when asked to at the weekend.

"I definitely don't feel as though I've made it. I'm still enthusiastic and hungry to learn. If people are saying good things about me then that's great. It's better than being criticised! Even though you've been at United a while, the first-team dressing room is new territory."

The 22-year-old's emergence has come following the retirement of Scholes, and even after just four United starts, comparisons have already been drawn between the two.

Furthermore, after Scholes' departure, United were heavily linked with a move for Wesley Sneijder, another who is seen to be in Cleverley's mould.

However, following a summer full of speculation, United fans have unveiled a banner saying 'Who needs Wesley? We've got Cleverley' to the delight of the midfielder.

"Wesley Sneijder is fantastic, but if fans think that, then I must be doing something right. I'm not from Manchester but I've grown up here and know what this club means to the fans. If they get behind me like that then I'm buzzing," he added.


 

"I don't think you can compare anybody to Paul Scholes. He was a great player and an individual, and that's what I want to be as well. I want to make my own name in the game."

Along with the likes of Phil Jones and Danny Welbeck, both fellow members of England's Under-21 squad that featured in the summer's European Championships, Cleverley has led a new young breed at United.

But, despite attaining four wins our of four so far this season, no one at United is prepared to get ahead of themselves, according to Cleverley.

"Nobody wants to get too carried away, but this is a youthful squad and it's exciting to be part of it," he continued.

"But we have to remember we're only a month into the season and there's a long way to go. Some of us younger lads don't know what it's like to win the Premier League yet, but that's where the experience of the others comes into it.

"A few older players left the club in the summer, but we've still got experience in abundance.

"The versatility in the squad means that almost anybody can occupy the forward positions, and we can swap about on the pitch.

"It must be a joy to watch. On the pre-season tour we were almost scoring goals at will, and against City it was so enjoyable to play at Wembley and be involved in that second goal."

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Topics:
Football
Premier League
Manchester United
Tom Cleverley

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