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Cleverley, the new Scholes?

Newcastle-v-Manchester-United-Tom-Cleverley-c_2841478If you’re a Red, it has been one of those weeks where avoiding newspapers, radio phone-ins and other media outlets suddenly becomes very advisable, in other words the sort of week that comes around regularly when England and their circus replace club football. Not that the crusade against Rio should bother us at all, after all the curtain finally drawing on his international career is what we had hoped for for the last four-five years, but the times are indeed grim when we are lectured on moral values by Steven Gerrard.

While we wait for the obligatory backlash that will follow Wayne Rooney’s red card against Montenegro (which will also almost certainly condemn Roy’s troops to the ignominy of a playoff ) one of today’s papers provides an interesting comparison between Tom Cleverley and Paul Scholes.

Cleverley had been tipped to make the role vacated by Scholes his own at the beginning of last season but a series of injuries led to a very stop-start campaign for the youngster, with Scholesy eventually summoned for return from retirement in January as he slotted back seamlessly into his berth in the middle of the park.

This season though, Cleverley has taken a considerable step towards becoming one of the first names on Sir Alex Ferguson’s teamsheet, scoring four times in 28 appearances in all competitions for United, while adding three assists as well.

In his interview with Henry Winter on the Telegraph, Cleverley reveals the huge influence that Paul Scholes still has at the club, both on and off the pitch.

“It’s more you just watch and learn with Scholesy rather than speaking to him, I can learn a lot of things from him, from the way he plays his game from short to long,” said the 23-year-old.

“He has been for many years one of the best in the world at keeping the ball, not only just keeping the ball but hurting teams as well. That’s a big part of Scholesy’s game. You can keep the ball as long as you want, playing it sideways 10 yards, but he also hurts teams as well, which you have to have in your game at this level.”

While playing in the same position as Scholes, Cleverley is obviously a different players from the Ginger Ninja. For a start he doesn’t share a penchant for late tackles, having been cautioned only once this season, but he’s also nowhere near as prolific as Scholesy was at the beginning of his career, albeit Cleverley is deployed in a deeper a role. It’s something that the Basingstoke-born midfielder is working on, though.

According to the interview, Cleverley is also looking up to Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard as role models, and he particularly admires Lampard’s finishing skills (lucky deflections or outstanding sense of position, depending on who you listen to) while describing Gerrard as a “positive influence”.

Surprisingly enough, at least for some, Cleverley cites Rooney as a player many look up to in the England

“[Rooney] is good for me and the likes of Welbeck and the other young players at United and England,he offers you advice and tells you if he wants a bit more from you. He gives you constructive things,” said Cleverley.

Last season, Cleverley’s only “trophy” was the Community Shield – a game he helped turn around since coming on at half-time – and should he add something more consistent to his trophy cabinet this year, then the 2012-13 season could really be remembered as the season when Tom Cleverley made Scholes’s spot his own.


Dan (@MUFC_dan87)


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