Ferguson delighted to pick brains of 'clever' Cleverley

 

The talk behind the scenes at Old Trafford yesterday was of sustainability. The stadium is the first of its size in Britain to be awarded a prestigious environmental quality mark, though "ISO 14001" – to give it its full title – understandably did not feature in Sir Alex Ferguson's discussion of where his and other English sides now feature in the continental pecking order.

The preponderance of young domestic talent at the manager's disposal suggests that they do possess a far greater sustainability than the two London clubs whose threat to United's hegemony has been fended off. Ferguson insisted yesterday that the Premier League is not "on the slide" because of the calamities which have befallen Arsenal and Chelsea in Italian cities 400 miles apart. "I don't see that [English dominance of the Champions League] subsiding to be honest with you," the United manager said. "It's maybe a disappointing season but not really to my mind definite that we're on the slide." Yet his reasoning – that the London sides had been beset by injuries and "you can't expect them to get the best results without the best teams" – seemed to be an act of diplomacy.

It has not been a vintage United season either, though that is because Ferguson's is a young squad in transition. In the shape of Tom Cleverley, likely to start his first game at Old Trafford since the 8-2 demolition of Arsenal in August against Ajax tonight, he has an important component of his team's sustainability restored to him.

Cleverley made light yesterday of the notion that he may form part of Stuart Pearce's England squad announced today, though Ferguson's paean of praise for the 22-year-old sitting to his right said it all. "He is a very clever footballer. He has got a quick brain in terms of appreciation of passing," Ferguson said. "He gives us more ammunition in midfield which a few months ago everyone was starting to worry about."

Those worries are certainly easing, with the return of Paul Scholes – who might well have preserved United's Champions League status had he been persuaded to forget retirement in the first place – Anderson and a reinvigorated Michael Carrick. The only setback tonight is the absence of Wayne Rooney. A sore throat which was affecting him in United's 2-0 first-leg win in Amsterdam last week has worsened. The aim is to have him fit for the trip to Norwich on Sunday.

 



Of course, the key to a sustainable football team is to bring through the young ones while the veterans are still plying their trade and if Ryan Giggs appears, probably from the bench, for his 900th appearance tonight, he may find himself intersecting with a player – Cleverley – who was one and a half years old when he made his debut. "I can't remember [his debut] exactly," Cleverley said, not unsurprisingly. "But I remember pretending to be him in the back garden."

There are few more compliments Ferguson can offer about Giggs, though yesterday he imparted the view that the man he has told confidantes should be his successor is the best British player of all time. "Playing in the Premier League as long as he has – I don't think another player will do it..."

The manager did not entirely dismiss the notion of Giggs appearing 1,000 times for United, though this did seem to challenge his notion of sustainability a little. "Where did that one come from?" he said. "One hundred games from now... how old would that make him...?" When someone replied "59", the manager grinned. "Stanley Matthews played at 50 didn't he? We'll wait and see, eh?"

Suggested Topics
News
i100
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
News
The Prostate Cancer Foundation is returning all donations made by Redditors 'in honour' of Jennifer Lawrence and her naked photos
news

Website users raised funds after Jennifer Lawrence nude photo leak

News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
advertising
Arts and Entertainment
Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio, at an awards show in 2010
filmsDe Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
News
i100
Life and Style
Red or dead: An actor portrays Hungarian countess Elizabeth Báthory, rumoured to have bathed in blood to keep youthful
health
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Sport
England captain Wayne Rooney during training
FOOTBALLNew captain vows side will deliver against Norway for small crowd
News
peopleJustin Bieber charged with assault and dangerous driving after crashing quad bike into a minivan
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Sport
Radamel Falcao poses with his United shirt
FOOTBALLRadamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant in Colombia to Manchester United's star signing
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Chief inspector of GPs: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

Steve Field: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

The man charged with inspecting doctors explains why he may not be welcome in every surgery
Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

Stolen youth

Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Scorsese in the director's chair with De Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

Made by Versace, designed by her children

Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Anyone for pulled chicken?

Pulling chicks

Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
9 best steam generator irons

9 best steam generator irons

To get through your ironing as swiftly as possible, invest in one of these efficient gadgets
England v Norway: Wayne Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

New captain vows side will deliver for small Wembley crowd
‘We knew he was something special:’ Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing

‘We knew he was something special’

Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York