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Stars of the Future – Midfield

Following on from my look at the defence (which you can read by clicking here) it’s time to look at the promising midfield players at Old Trafford.

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Following on from my look at the defence (which you can read by clicking here) it’s time to look at the promising midfield players at Old Trafford.

United have been lucky enough to have countless midfield legends at Old Trafford over the years including Beckham, Keane and Scholes but who do they have to take these legends’ places?

Anderson

Anderson is one of the most promising players in the United roster. The 23 year old Brazilian signed from Porto in 2007 and has since broken in to the first team and rightfully so. The young Brazilian has had his problems with injuries but he has still managed to make his mark on the United first team and while he may not be a goal scoring machine he can be relied on when it matters.

Anderson found the back of the net in two key games last season, firstly helping the club in to the Champions League final against Schalke when he scored twice, and secondly with an equaliser against an impressive Blackpool on the final day of the season. I can definitely see Anderson playing a key part in the quest for the 20th title and am hoping he has more goals in him this season.

Tom Cleverley

Tom Cleverley is THE player to watch this season. After a phenomenal loan spell last season with Wigan that saw the 21 year old find the net 4 times we could see Tom step up to fill the empty space left by Paul Scholes.

Sir Alex has already confirmed that Cleverley will remain at the club and has even hinted that he may be a home-grown replacement for Scholesy this season. An excellent performance in the 2 – 1 pre-season victory over Barcelona saw the young midfield star rewarded by Ferguson who stated:

With Paul Scholes retiring and Darren Fletcher still recovering from his virus, central midfield is an area we have to find a solution for. Tom Cleverley, physically, isn’t the strongest lad but he’s wily and he has a great idea of the game. 

“He’s a good footballer and I thought he was our best player [against Barcelona]. His discipline was terrific, he’s a good passer and he has good eyes.”

High praise indeed but if Tom can live up to expectation he could prove to be one of the key players for us this season, if not a candidate for player of the year.

There are some phenomenally talented midfield players in the United reserves and Academy set-up, who after a strong season last year will be looking to force their way in to the first team over the next season or two. For this article I have picked four of these youngsters who I feel could make it to the top.

Paul Pogba

Pogba arrived at Old Trafford in 2009 from French Ligue 2 side Le Havre and has made some serious impact at the club. The French youngster really has the potential to become a spectacular player, with his quick feet, great passing ability and an eye for goal.

Paul has scored plenty of goals for both the Under 18’s and the Reserves and was even selected on the bench for the FA Cup clash with Crawley Town last season. The young midfielder has represented France at various levels and I can see him becoming a regular fixture in the French national side for many seasons to come and I really believe the same can be said for the Reds.

Paul has an excellent natural talent on the ball and makes things look so easy he has even caught the eye of our star striker Wayne Rooney, who in a recent interview stated:

“Paul Pogba has really impressed me… he was outstanding last season.” With United looking to strengthen the midfield this season I would expect to see Pogba force his way into the first team at some point during this year’s campaign.”

Ravel Morrison

Morrison could easily fit in to Sir Alex’s plans to strengthen his midfield this season. Ravel’s ability to play out wide, centrally or just behind the main striker could prove a strong asset and we may see the youngster make the step up from reserve to first team this season.

The young Manchester native’s abilities have caught the eye of player and management alike. Wayne Rooney spoke highly of Ravel in an interview with FourFourTwo magazine claiming that the youngster has a ‘big future’ at the club.

Sir Alex must agree with Wazza as he gave Morrison his United debut during last season’s Carling Cup victory over Wolves and I have a feeling this isn’t the last we’ll see of Morrison in the famous Red shirt.

Oliver Norwood

Norwood is another future United star in the making. Intelligent and creative midfielder Oliver’s fine displays for the reserve side have earned him high praise from senior squad manager Nigel Worthington who told the club website:

“This lad’s a genius!.. what he can do with the ball from free-kicks is remarkable.”

With a set-piece ability not seen at Old Trafford since the days of David Beckham and an intelligence far beyond his age Oliver will soon be ready to make the step up to first team football.

The Northern Ireland under 21 International could possibly benefit from a season on loan to a lower Premiership or Championship side to gain regular first team football. He’s definitely someone who I expect to see him in a United shirt on a regular basis in the not so distant future.

Ryan Tunnicliffe

Last but by no means least is Ryan Tunnicliffe. Yet another youngster singled out for praise by Rooney, Ryan is a strong powerful all round midfielder who has masses of grit, passion and determination and his strength love of the tackle draws comparison with former club-captain Roy Keane.

Ryan has become an invaluable member of the reserves team and his hard tackles and natural talent on the ball have earned him a call up to the England Under 19’s squad. Tunnicliffe was rewarded for his phenomenal performances for the club when he was awarded the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of Year Award, joining the ranks of former winners including Wes Brown, Danny Welbeck and club legends Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs. 

Whilst not wanting to get too over the top about Tunnicliffe, if he is able to develop to half the level that fans expect him to, we really could have a great midfield on our hands. He is already being spoken about for his great intelligence and leadership qualities and it shall be interesting to see how he gets on at Sir Alex’s son Darren’s Peterborough United out on loan this season.

By @JamesSportsBlog

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