After a fast start in Manchester United's first-team, Academy product Tom Cleverley has found it tough going especially during last season under David Moyes.
The 24-year-old England international was touted as 'the future of Manchester United' by Sir Alex Ferguson, but has found it rather difficult to live up to the promise that he showed during his youth days.
When Paul Scholes called time on his career back in May 2011, many Old Trafford faithful called upon Sir Alex to buy a top class midfielder to replace the Ginger-Head Prince. After impressing on tour however, Cleverley grabbed the opportunity with both hands against Manchester City in the 2011 Community Shield.
The Red Devils were chasing the game 2-0 at half-time but the introduction of Cleverley, Phil Jones and Johnny Evans sparked a great comeback with Cleverley at the heart of everything.
After the match, Sir Alex mentioned that 'the performance of the youngsters particularly Cleverley, made it easy for him to select his team in the coming weeks.'
The Academy graduate was partnered in the centre of midfield with Anderson and was very impressive. He was very tidy on the ball taking no more than three touches as he moved the ball very quickly.
His passing was sharp and crisp while his work rate going from box-to-box was exceptional. He made the team tick dictating their play with high intensity and pace. He was in great form in his break-out season but injury against Bolton Wanderers from a Kevin Davies challenge started a series of injuries.
The youngster was out for six weeks with ligament damage in the ankle and upon his return against Everton, he was taken off due to a recurrence of the injury. He sat out most of the remainder of season and he has not really shown such outstanding form since then.
He has been quite good in the middle of the park and has perhaps been the best partner for Michael Carrick but his form took a turn for the worse under Moyes. He has been criticised brutally by the same fans who sang him praises during his break-out season but has not given him the support he needs in this difficult period.
Cleverley can however take heart from Aaron Ramsey who struggled for form following his broken leg against Stoke City and is now playing very well.
In the wake of Louis van Gaal's appointment, Cleverley may have feared that he would have been shown the door but it seems as if the Dutch master tactician is willing to give him a chance.
Van Gaal faith
Van Gaal is known for giving youngsters a chance to shine and the 24 year old Englishman seems to be one such beneficiary. Cleverly was handed the captain's armband in their recent friendly against AS Roma which is definitely a sign of the manager showing faith in the player.
His style may be appreciated by van Gaal because he is quite neat and tidy on the ball but he has talent and a lot of potential even though at the age of 24 years he is not such a young player anymore.
This is perhaps his final chance to save his Old Trafford career and he may be encouraged by fellow Academy graduate Danny Welbeck, who seems to be in van Gaal's plans. They have been playing together since their days in the youth teams and hopefully will be pushing each other to make a successful career in the first team.
Cleverley definitely has talent and potential but now is the time to deliver and with the signing of Ander Herrera and potentially Arturo Vidal and Kevin Strootman, he will have to lift his game. He could also learn a thing or two from them and he has an excellent manager who is capable of getting the best out of him.
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