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Tom Cleverley's smart switch to Watford

Saturday 14th January 2017
After making just four starts in the Premier League this season, it is clear to see why Everton's Tom Cleverley favoured a loan move to Watford.

Gareth Barry, Idrissa Gueye and James McCarthy have all been above Cleverley in the pecking order at Everton and The Toffees have signed another midfielder in the form of Morgan Schneiderlin. The move will surely give the 27-year-old more first-team action and could benefit Walter Mazzarri's side who are in freefall at the moment with one draw and four losses in their last five games.
The majority of Cleverley's youth career was spent at Manchester United and it is hard to believe that years ago he was touted as the next Paul Scholes. He went on to make 55 Premier League appearances for the club but failed to reach the unfair expectations set by fans and the media. During his seven years at Manchester United, Cleverley was sent out on loan frequently but has played in the top three divisions of English football and even earned 13 caps for England.

His first loan spell was at Leicester City, back when they were in League One. Unfortunately, a shoulder injury halfway through the season ended his time at the club after 15 games. The Foxes went on to be champions and Cleverley received a winner's medal for the part he played in their success. Fully recovered from his injury, he joined Watford on loan for the 2009/10 season and although they finished 16th in the Championship, Cleverley stood out by scoring an impressive 11 goals in 33 games in the league.
Cleverley's other loan spells were at Wigan Athletic and Aston Villa. Both teams were struggling to remain in the Premier League and both managed to stay up when Cleverley played for them. Being part of a club that is scrapping for points and fighting to stay in the league can be mentally draining but this experience could make Cleverley a valuable asset to Watford if they are sucked into a relegation battle.

In this campaign, one of Mazzarri's main problems has been consistency. Watford have managed to beat Manchester United and Everton but have also been thrashed by Liverpool and Tottenham. These matches may be considered as bonus games but they have lost seemingly ‘winnable games' against the teams around them as well. Defeats to Burnley, Stoke and Sunderland have caused Watford to slide down the table to 14th, seven points above the drop zone.

Some of Watford's disappointing performances could be due to a lack of players with knowledge of the league. They strengthened their squad by signing some great players in 2016 such as Roberto Pereyra and Nordin Amrabat but need more players who are familiar with the tempo and physicality of the teams in the league. Last season, Watford finished a respectable 13th in the league despite being heavy favourites to finish bottom and they reached the semi-finals in the FA cup. Cleverley could be the man to steady the ship at Watford and recreate some of the success they experienced last year.

The 27-year-old needs to impress quickly in these four or five months with Watford if he wants to remain a regular starter for a Premier League team. He is known for having a high work-rate but this alone is not enough; this season he desperately needs to show the quality he has on the ball. With things not working out at Manchester United and now Everton, there are no excuses left for Cleverley and this loan move to Watford must act as his catalyst for change.
Robert Wiltshire
I am a Creative Writing MA graduate with a love for playing, watching and writing about football.

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