Why next season could be Cleverley's last at Manchester United

Tom Cleverley 2

Tom Cleverley has failed to live up to expectations so far and next season could prove to be his final chance at Old Trafford.

When he arrived at Bayern Munich in 2009, one of Louis van Gaal's first decisions was to convert Bastian Schweinsteiger - then a winger by trade - into a defensive midfielder, a position in which the German has thrived ever since.

If the Dutch coach is confirmed as the next Manchester United manager, then the Old Trafford faithfuls will hope that the 62-year-old can work his magic again and resurrect Tom Cleverley's career.

Having failed to establish himself as a first-team regular during Sir Alex Ferguson's tenure, Cleverley got a fresh start under David Moyes' regime. However, the England international midfielder has endured a torrid time this season and has often been criticised by the club’s fans.

Cleverley has managed just 18 Premier League appearances this term, scoring only once and, even more worryingly for a central midfielder, has failed to deliver a single assist. While Cleverley isn't the only reason for United's midfield malaise, the 24-year-old hasn't lived up to the potential he had shown during loan spells at Wigan Athletic and Watford.

However, under Van Gaal, Cleverley could be given one last shot at saving his United career. The Dutchman has often opted for a 4-3-3 formation, with a holding and a creative midfielder (Albert Celades and Ivan de la Pena at Barcelona, Mark van Bommel and Thomas Mueller at Bayern) supported by a third midfielder with a licence to roam (Luis Enrique at Barca, Schweinsteiger in Munich). Cleverley could thrive in a similar role, particularly if the Red Devils were to bring in the world-class midfielder they desperately need.

Given his age, Cleverley could even be seen as a better option than Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher by Van Gaal, but the 24-year-old will have to step up next season. If he doesn't then he could be one of the first victims of the Dutchman’s notorious ruthlessness.

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