Cleverley admits Kagawa changed how he plays football

by Sam Peoples

Tom Cleverley is shaping up nicely for the season ahead. Taking part in the Olympics has helped him progress as a footballer and he has shown that with some very good performances for Manchester United and England already this year.

One thing that has looked different about Cleverley this year is his involvement in the defensive side of the game. He has been getting stuck much further back in the team and it coincides with the arrival of Japanese playmaker Shinji Kagawa.

“I feel like I’ve played a little deeper. I always watch the games back and I’ve noticed I’ve been intercepting and tackling a bit more than usual. Tom Cleverley

Speaking to about this year, he said:

“I’ve been happy with that [playing deeper] but that’s not something that’s going to affect my play. I just hope it’s something I’ve added to my game.

I know I’ve got a few goals in me. Hopefully my first arrives soon. If the midfield can chip in with 30 goals this season it will be a massive help to the team.”

Now that we have an out-and-out attacking midfielder, Tom Cleverley has been holding back more and gone against his natural attacking instinct to always drive forward. It is something that has allowed him to be far more involved in the break up of opponents play and the build up of United’s.

Despite only playing 244 minutes of Premier League football, he has attempted and completed the most tackles (10/13) in the team. In comparison, Carrick has completed 5/12 in 480 minutes and Scholes has completed 4/11 in 253 minutes.

Goals have slowly emerged as a component of Cleverley’s game. Starting off at left back in the youth sides, he adopted a central midfield role amidst an injury crisis and impressed with his intelligence of the game and awareness of space. It was a role that he was given on a permanent basis and it was only then that he started to find his goalscoring boots.

I’ve enjoyed watching Cleverley playing further back and I hope it continues. It gives United a deeper option for bringing the ball forward rather than trying to get it forward to a winger or striker too quickly and allows us to slow and dictate play far more.

Having been kept out of the first team by Carrick and Scholes, he is hopeful of playing tonight against Newcastle in the Capital One Cup, he said:

“I’m always wanting to impress. I want to impress the fans, impress the manager, impress my team-mates and impress myself.

“I look on it as another chance to play and another chance to win a trophy.

“Every game United play I want to play.”

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