It’s easy to forget at times for fans of the top clubs that there are sometimes good players behind the scenes at clubs.
Every club no matter how big or small will always have young and at times inexperienced players who need very simply to get time on the pitch and grow as a footballer.
At Manchester United of course, we have had a great history of loaning out players in order to get them some experience. Famously of course David Beckham who had already made his first team debut for us against Brighton in the League Cup back in 1992, was loaned out for a short time to our neighbours Preston in the 1994/95 season.
Beckham had a successful time at Deepdale and of course the following season became a first team regular as ‘Ferguson’s Fledglings’ went on – with the help of a few experienced pro’s like Eric Cantona – to win a league and cup double.
It’s been great to follow the progress of our top loanees in Danny Wellbeck,Federico Macheda, Mame Diouf and Tom Cleverley, to see how they’ve got on this year. Those players in particular could be the future of our football club and are in the eyes of our fans, the ‘next’ guys who our team will be built around.
I would like to focus on them individually and give an opinion on their prospects for next season and beyond.
Under our former club captain Steve Bruce at Sunderland, Wellbeck’s had a good season with his form surprisingly winning him an England cap against Ghana at Wembley. Playing regularly in the Premiership was always going to test Danny and after a slow start he found his feet before going on a brief scoring run. Sadly for Mackem fans, Danny’s season has been brought to a halt by injury problems but in 22 league games for them he scored 6 goals and led the line well.
At Sampdoria, Kiko perhaps hasn’t done as well as he’d have liked to only scoring once for the Genoanside with that goal coming in the Coppa Italia against Udinese. One goal may not look great, butSampdoria of late have been struggling in Serie A and are flirting with relegation and as a result he has not got alot of chances.
It’s been made more difficult for Kiko with the fact that the majority of his appearances have come from off the bench. But he’ll have learnt an awful lot whilst playing and that can only be a good thing for when he comes back to Old Trafford.
Diouf has done ok at our neighbours Blackburn scoring 6 times for Rovers in his stay so far. He started the season well scoring four goals early on, but after the departure of Sam Allardyce he has been more out of the team than in, so to speak. Still though Mame’s learnt alot this year about the toughness of the Premiership and will be better for it.
Lastly of course is Cleverley, who has earned heaps of priase at Wigan. His coach there Roberto Martinez has a good record with working with young players and Tom this year has more than carried on his form from his previous loan spells at Leicester City and Watford.
Wigan still may get relegated this year which could be a disappointing thing for Tom to be part of, but he is one of the first names on Martinez’s team sheet and that says alot for a young player playing in his first season in the Premiership.
So after rounding that up will those guys in question get a chance next season?
In terms of the three strikers mentioned, a lot depends on whether Michael Owen gets a new deal at the club. At the moment despite Michael being a complete professional and a great guy to have around the team, I can’t see for the life of me that he’ll be at Old Trafford next season. It’s not a fault on Owen, but his best days are behind him.
With that in mind, wouldn’t it make more sense to give those young strikers chances to see if they really can be United players who we can rely on in years to come. Despite being brought to the club’s attention by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer two years ago, I can’t really see Diouf having a real future at the club as with competition fierce it will be hard for him to get a look-in.
I would say that Danny probably lies just ahead of Kiko in the pecking order behind the regular strikers at the club, based on his experiences last season. The fact Danny can also play on the wing is also a good option for the side too.
However Kiko looks to be a real flair player and given a good pre-season I think he’ll do much better next season. We know he’s got an eye for goal as he’s proven with two stunning strikes against Aston Villa in the past, one of them coming this season of course.
For Cleverley it wouldn’t hurt to go out on loan again and learn even more what it’s like to be a Premiership footballer before of course he gets a chance to be part of our midfield on a regular basis.
He clearly has good passing skills and vision which he’s shown this season and someone like Owen Coyle perhaps would be interested in working with him.
After his success of working with guys like Jack Wilshere and most recently Danny Sturridge, going on loan to Bolton would in fact be a great option not just for Tom but for Danny and Kiko as well.
Here’s to their progress continuing next season.
By Adam Dennehey – @ADennehey87