Ferguson yearning for Cleverley return

 

Sir Alex Ferguson admitted yesterday that his side's season could be dictated by the next four league games and appears to hold out faint hopes that Tom Cleverley may be back for at least one of them.

Cleverley, the individual Ferguson has declared as "probably the best midfielder in Britain" is 10 days away from a return to the training pitch, though how he responds there is the imponderable question. "He could cope right away and if he does then you're talking about a week [before he's back in the squad]," Ferguson said.

It is rare for Ferguson to be as publicly fulsome in his praise for a young player as for Cleverley, characterised as a potential midfield saviour for United despite only four Premier League starts. Lou Macari has cautioned against generating too much expectation. "I'm just getting a little bit worried that it seems our whole future depends on Tom Cleverley," he said "It's getting a little bit out of hand.

But Ferguson, who declined to discuss David de Gea's need for eye surgery at the end of the season, yesterday proclaimed Cleverley's impact last autumn before his ankle injury. "Absolutely phenomenal. I've not seen that impact from a young player at our club for a long time. He's been a loss because he's got something different from everyone else."

The odds appear stacked against Cleverley being available to United until a difficult month of league football has been navigated – with Chelsea away and Liverpool at home at the start of next month, following tomorrow's clash at the Emirates. Stoke City and the Anfield FA Cup tie are sandwiched in the middle.

With Darren Fletcher written off for the season, Anderson suffering from another injury – sustained in training – and Ashley Young recovering from an ankle injury, the challenge is to steer a course through these awkward next four weeks to remain in contention when players begin returning. After a difficult visit to Tottenham at the start of March, that month brings the relative comfort of West Bromwich Albion, Wolves, Fulham and Blackburn Rovers. "Hopefully we can navigate this clutch of games [in the next month] because they will be important for where we end up this season," Ferguson said.

Chris Smalling and Phil Jones will be fit tomorrow, when Ferguson – who sees a far less intense rivalry with Arsenal now that he also has Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Liverpool diluting it – expects no emotional response from Arsene Wenger to August's 8-2 demolition at Old Trafford. "You have to forget [a result like that]," he said. "I've never used revenge as part of my motivation ever. It rankles, I'm sure, but you have to forget it and I'm sure Arsene did that. That's what I would have done anyway. I'm not saying everyone uses that, but the way I've looked at football it's never played a part in my managerial career to think about revenge."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas