Football

England needed Tom Cleverley at the World Cup

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I know we're all sick of hearing about how, where and why England went wrong at this World Cup, it's about time we all picked a second nation to support - Iran anybody?

While it may be best to move on, all the time that the tournament rumbles along to the samba beat, there can be no escape from the niggling irritations of what could have been. Disgruntled fans need to vent, and Euro 2016 is far too long away to let it all out. 

Roy Hodgson was praised and lauded for his youthful and attacking stance before flying off for the impending and unavoidable disappointment.

It feels slightly strange at this stage though. We all wanted to see England just have a go, lets not forget both Italy and Uruguay are ranked higher. Despite our worst ever showing, we did exactly that. 

The overriding factor behind the elimination, barring a sheer lack of quality, were mistakes; mistakes from the middle and mistakes from the back.

STEVEN GERRARD

Steven Gerrard has been a wonderful servant for club and country and will go down as a legend alongside the very best, but lets face it - he struggled in the two games. His and Jordan Henderson's partnership in the middle failed to blossom the same sort of underdog fairytale for England as it did for large parts of Liverpool's season. 

While both can defend, they weren't naturally capable enough to deal with the threats and they didn't provide enough protection. Similarly, they can both be too prone to looking for the Hollywood-ball. 

In fact, Hodgson didn't take any out-an-out holding players. Neither Jack Wilshere, Ross Barkley nor Frank Lampard would've sorted that issue, all of them are better going forward. 

Part of that is down to the lack of any standout candidate. Gareth Barry had a super season for Everton, but his past international scars failed to heal enough for his inclusion. 

TOM CLEVERLEY

Tom Cleverley, however, could be the missing link.

The 24-year-old must have the lowest confidence levels of anybody playing professional football. Has there ever been a petition to ban anybody else from a World Cup squad? I sure hope he doesn't look on Twitter either, because it's fair to say that not everybody is kind to the Manchester United man.

That lack of confidence, as strange as this may sound, may well have just worked in his and England's favour.

Before last season, Cleverley was something of a box-to-box man. However, in a struggling United side, he became the scapegoat: the epitome of everything that was wrong under David Moyes. 

CRITICISM

The criticism morphed him into a shy and struggling central midfielder who almost looked too scared to enter the opposition's half for fear of ridicule. One thing that never changed was his ability to keep the ball.

Hodgson could have instructed Cleverley to patrol the area in front of the back four. He needn't have had the pressure of venturing forward, he had the range to pick out the more penetrative players.

Letting him have a nibble at anybody who looked ominous, giving him plenty of simple options and generally giving him a new focus; what a great way to rebuild a player. It worked for Owen Hargreaves.  

Hopefully with the dust settling on England's tainted Brazilian adventure, and with a new dawn at Old Trafford, people can start to appreciate a player that will always work hard.

Not everybody can be as swan-like as Andrea Pirlo. He is a finely-aged bottle of vino, Cleverley is more hard ale. But, at the end of the day, they both get you intoxicated. What's the big taboo? 

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Topics:
Football
England Football
Tom Cleverley
World Cup

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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