Former Manchester United midfielder Sammy McIlroy says Tom Cleverley's early season form has vindicated Sir Alex Ferguson's decision not to sign Wesley Sneijder.

The England under-21 international has broken through into the United first-team this season, with his sparkling displays very much providing the cornerstone of the club's impressive start to the season.

Despite Cleverley's inexperience at the highest level, Ferguson wasn't ushered into bringing in a big money signing to replace Paul Scholes, in the form of Wesley Sneijder, and McIlroy says the Scot's faith in the 22-year-old has paid off.

“I was one of those who wanted to see Wesley Sneijder at Old Trafford,” McIlroy said.


“He’s a fantastic player and I thought he would be an ideal buy, but the way Tom Cleverley started the season before his injury has meant nobody really talks about Sneijder now.

“I think that particular move is very much on the back-burner now. Obviously, Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson are always looking to improve, so they might keep half an eye on it.

“It is important to see how Tom returns after his ankle injury. But if he picks up where he left off, I cannot see Sir Alex doing anything about Sneijder any more.

Cleverley was handed his first start against Manchester City in the Community Shield and stared as United's brand of passing football bowled over their neighbours.

The Northern Irishman McIlroy has been impressed with how Cleverley has taken his opportunities.

“All the talk about Sneijder would have put some pressure on him in his own mind," McIlroy added. "Once that transfer petered out he had to show the manager he was ready and grasp any opportunity that came along.

“I thought he really did that in the Community Shield against City. He turned that Wembley match around for United. He showed all his qualities that day.

“His energy levels are terrific. He’s a box-to-box midfielder who can score goals as well. I know that description has had people talking about him in the same breath as Bryan Robson and Roy Keane.

“He’s going to be around at United for a long time.”

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