Cleverley delighted with form
United youngster happy with first-team role
By Graeme Bailey - Tweet me: @skygraemebailey. Last Updated: 05/09/11 1:57pm
Tom Cleverley insists he is taking his rise into the Manchester United first-team in his stride.
The 22-year-old has burst onto the scene at Old Trafford this season following loan spells at Leicester, Watford and Wigan.
Many predicted Cleverley could emerge at some point this season, and after an excellent display in the Community Shield he has since started all three of United's league games.
"Getting into the team has always been my target and I've done that now. Maybe it's happened a little bit more quickly than some people expected, but I have to carry on working hard now if I want to stay in the team," Cleverley told United's official website.
"I understand there'll be squad rotation, but I want to play as many games as possible.
"I feel I improved during this pre-season, I'm still the same player and I'm still the same guy. Just because I'm playing in United's first team, that doesn't all of a sudden make me a great footballer.
"It's a bit strange when people are talking about you and you see your name in the papers, but in my head I'm still the same footballer who was sent out on loan to Wigan last year. The only difference is that I'm turning out for Manchester United now.
"I don't feel any extra pressure. I'm just coming to training every day and playing when asked to at the weekend.
"I definitely don't feel as though I've made it. I'm still enthusiastic and hungry to learn. If people are saying good things about me then that's great. It's better than being criticised! Even though you've been at United a while, the first-team dressing room is new territory."
Better than Sneijder?
Following United's link with Wesley Sneijder, a section of fans produced a banner saying 'Who needs Wesley? We've got Cleverley' and he admits that sort of admiration is always good.
"Wesley Sneijder is fantastic, but if fans think that, then I must be doing something right. I'm not from Manchester but I've grown up here and know what this club means to the fans. If they get behind me like that then I'm buzzing," he admitted.
The comparisons to now retired United legend Paul Scholes have also been forthcoming.
"I don't think you can compare anybody to Paul Scholes. He was a great player and an individual, and that's what I want to be as well. I want to make my own name in the game," he said.
Cleverley is delighted with how United have started their Premier League campaign with three wins, but he insists that means little at this stage of the season.
"Nobody wants to get too carried away, but this is a youthful squad and it's exciting to be part of it," he continued.
"But we have to remember we're only a month into the season and there's a long way to go. Some of us younger lads don't know what it's like to win the Premier League yet, but that's where the experience of the others comes into it.
"A few older players left the club in the summer, but we've still got experience in abundance. Our young legs should mean we don't have any fitness problems, either.
"We look really good going forward, and we're very fluid.
"The versatility in the squad means that almost anybody can occupy the forward positions, and we can swap about on the pitch.
"It must be a joy to watch. On the pre-season tour we were almost scoring goals at will, and against City it was so enjoyable to play at Wembley and be involved in that second goal."