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Why Man Utd should never have bothered pursuing Sneijder

Friday 12th August 2011
Is Wesley Sneijder gifted? Of course he is. Would he make a huge impact for Man Utd in the Premiership and Champions League? No doubt. So why would I say the champions would be better off without him? Let me explain.

Last season, United underperformed, they lacked a certain zip to their play and never really looked like they hit top gear. True, their home form was formidable but the football suggested that any momentum they built could be halted on any given Saturday.

Rooney had an atrocious start and had it not been for "that goal", it would have been a season to forget for the England's brightest star. Berbatov's form was sporadic, Hernandez, as well as he played, still looked a little wet behind the ears and Michael Owen is Michael Owen. And that's just the forward line. Valencia's early injury, Nani's dip, Carrick's lack of presence and the type of invisibility from Anderson that even Harry Potter's invisibility cloak would struggle to emulate, all contributed to United's failure to simply stroll over the finish line. The fact that Chelsea still had a chance to win the title going into the game at Old Trafford was simply unacceptable.

With a terrific pre season record under their belt, a fantastic early win over rivals City in the Community Shield, the class of 2011/12 look set to be pacesetters going into Sunday's Premier League curtain raiser.

Why? Youth. More specifically, English youth. Chris Smalling and Phil Jones will keep the once comfortable combination of Ferdinand and Vidic on their toes. They already have a good understanding of each other due to their time with England's U21s. Danny Wellbeck after an impressive loan spell at Sunderland can offer something different going forward, he's quick and can play in a variety of roles. But most of all, the player most fans are looking forward to seeing is Tom Cleverly. There were murmurs that he would get his chance last season, after an impressive pre season display but Sir Alex decided to ship him out on loan to Wigan. After gaining valuable first team experience Fergie now believes that young Cleverly can stake his claim for a first team spot.

I'm not going to jump on the Tom Cleverly band wagon just yet, but I do think it'll be vital for him to get minutes on the pitch. Not just in the games against lesser teams or the odd League and FA cup outing, but against more substantial opposition like the Everton's, the Tottenham's and the Liverpool's of this world. He already needs to battle seasoned pros like Darren Fletcher, Michael Carrick, Anderson and to a lesser extent, Darron Gibson.

They cannot add Wesley Sneijder to that list, sure he would probably be a fantastic teacher and role model but it would dramatically reduce his first team opportunities. He has watched Paul Scholes, he has cut his teeth in the Premiership with Wigan, it's time for him to sink or swim. United have already lost potential future stars in Giuseppe Rossi and Gerard Pique due to too much competition, they shouldn't let Tom Cleverly join them.
Rob Hayes

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