Now this might seem absurd. Tom Cleverley has made only 5 appearances for United this season. He has been out with an ankle injury for more than two months now. The lad hasn’t even scored yet. So why do I say that he, perhaps, is the most important piece in Sir Alex’s scheme of things now.
Let me elucidate on that. Cleverley was loaned to Wigan last season. And he played a large part in keeping the Latics afloat. His purpose served, Cleverley then came right into the United first team. He started the Community Shield match against Manchester City and was involved in the build-up to United’s second goal. Rooney and Cleverley exchanged passes outside the box before releasing Nani to lift the ball past Joe Hart. His Premier League debut against West Brom was tepid at best. But in the next two matches against Tottenham and Arsenal he came into his element. He was dictating play from the middle of the park, spraying passes, running off the ball and making darting runs. Then came the Bolton match and he was laid low by a clumsy Kevin Davies tackle. Inexplicably, Davies wasn’t showed a card. Cleverley has since been on the treatment table at Old Trafford.
He hasn’t had the opportunity to do much yet. But it is his absence, and not his presence, that has made him irreplaceable at United. In his absence, Sir Alex’s men have lacked the creative spark in mid-field that Scholes had provided for so many years. That one pass that unlocks an opponent’s defenses is missing. United have since then suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of their city rivals and struggled to beat teams like Norwich and Swansea. United need Cleverley at the heart of their mid-field, pulling the strings. Only time will tell whether he is able to recover in time and steer United towards that 20th League title.