Manchester United duo set for crucial season
Danny Welbeck & Tom Cleverley face a tough test to establish themselves in Manchester United's starting XI for 2013/14
English pair Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley have a big month ahead of them as pre-season training begins and they look to impress new boss David Moyes.
For many, pre-season goes a long way to influencing how successful the year ahead will be, and is therefore a time of great opportunity and immense pressure.
It provides players with a valuable opportunity to finally establish themselves as a regular fixture in the starting eleven, especially when it’s a new manager they’re working to impress.
Here, we take a look at the challenges the two England internationals face if they are to break into Moyes’ first choice eleven.
Nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year award, despite his disappointing goal tally, last season was a mixed one for the England international.
He netted just twice in 40 appearances, and this was largely down to the fact that he rarely played in his favoured central position, nudged onto the flanks to make way for Van Persie, Rooney and Chicharito.
However, he regularly featured under Sir Alex Ferguson and a lot will depend on the Wayne Rooney situation. If Moyes keeps Rooney, then Welbeck will have to produce some exceptional form to rise up the pecking order.
Although, if Moyes does choose to let Rooney go, then Welbeck may find himself featuring up front for United on a more consistent basis. It will be a real test for the 22-year-old to establish himself as a regular goal-scorer for United.
The England midfielder started 18 of United’s Premier League fixtures last season, which represents a decent haul given Fergie’s tendency to also use Scholes, Giggs and Jones alongside Michael Carrick.
Indeed, on his own website, the 2012/13 campaign is described as “an important landmark” for Cleverley, who broke into the England side, and of course picked up his first major winner’s medal.
However, much rides on United’s summer transfer window. It has long been recognised that the central midfield area is one of United’s weakest links, and with Carrick a mainstay at the heart of the side, it will be tough for Cleverley to maintain his place alongside his England counterpart.
United have consistently been linked with Thiago Alcantara, and it is likely that the player will be registered with United by the end of August.
Thiago’s arrival would certainly put pressure on Cleverley, and it would be hard to see the Spain under-21 captain spending too much time sat on the bench, if and when he signs.
As with Welbeck, much depends on the changes to the squad that Moyes oversees in the next month or so, although Cleverley is certainly well placed to cement his position in the United midfield if he is given the opportunity to do so.
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