Manchester United played some of their best football of the last few years at the beginning of the 2011-12 season. That was time when the Tom Cleverley-Anderson midfield partnership had added a youthful effervescence to United’s play.
Goals were scored for fun. Chances created in flurries. And the Cleverley-Anderson axis was a huge part of that short but brilliant five game run. Then a Kevin Davies tackle injured Tom Cleverley and the flowering partnership was nipped in the bud.
Since then, for the last two seasons, Cleverley has done a decent job in United’s midfield alongside the metronomic Michael Carrick. He has not taken games by the scruff of the neck; neither has he been brilliant. Cleverley has just come in and ‘done a job’ in United’s midfield.
On the other hand, Anderson was supposed to be the next big thing when United signed him from FC Porto in 2007. He has since shown flashes of brilliance, but his six years at the club have been a blur of injuries, weight problems and consistently infuriating displays.
Anderson at his best can trample over the biggest of midfield stars, but that best is fleetingly seen. A short run of form followed by an untimely injury has happened too often to blame it on luck.
Into his seventh season at the Theatre of Dreams, he only survived at the club because David Moyes did not want to streamline his squad without assessing them thoroughly at first.
Phil Jones and Michael Carrick are out with groin and Achilles injuries respectively. It is likely that Anderson will get some chances in away games against the likes of Cardiff City, Bayer Leverkusen and Tottenham in the coming weeks.
It is imperative for Anderson to stand up and be counted, otherwise his Manchester United career may well be over come January.
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