Cleverley loves comeback buzz
Tom Cleverley says there’s no better feeling in football than the comebacks United have so artfully mastered down the years – and Saturday’s 2-1 triumph at Sunderland is another to add to the canon of come-from-behind victories.
As always with United, this was no run-of-the-mill fightback, it came via the “wand of a left foot” belonging to an 18-year-old making his first Barclays Premier League start. Adnan Januzaj’s impressive double – his first goal was with his supposedly weaker right foot, don’t forget – cancelled out Craig Gardner’s opener with interest.
Januzaj has acquired plenty of attention over the weekend, justifiably so after his match-winning performance, but Cleverley says plenty more qualities went into the victory.
“There aren’t many more satisfying feelings than coming back from behind away from home,” Tom told MUTV. “We said at half-time – the lads ourselves – we can’t come away from here without three points. The manager told us to be patient, keep it tight at the back and we did exactly what he said. The goals came and they were two great finishes by Adnan. I’m really pleased for him.”
As much as there were a number of positives in the match – resisting the risk of recording three straight league defeats; the reaction to going behind – Cleverley says there is plenty of room for improvement.
“There are things we can improve on with the goal we conceded,” he said. “We did start slowly. We could all look at that on the tapes and see where we can improve. But the character we showed to come back from that was fantastic and that’s what we’ll always have. That’s what this club is all about.”
You cannot escape the influence of two individuals, however: David De Gea, whose first-half save from Emanuele Giaccherini proved pivotal, and, of course, Januzaj’s intervention.
“It was a fantastic save,” notes Cleverley of De Gea’s one-handed save from Emanuele Giaccherini’s first-half header. “David does things that I don’t think anybody else can do. He’s a fantastic keeper. In real-time it looked like a world-class save from where I was stood, so well done to him.”
As for Januzaj’s double, Tom adds: “The first one, I was on the left so I couldn’t see how far into the corner it was. It was a great finish with his wrong foot. And then the second one, well… everyone knows he’s got it. He’s been doing it all pre-season in training, but to do it on the big stage, I’m really pleased for him.
“He’s got a wand of a left foot for shooting and crossing. It didn’t surprise me that it went in but I was just buzzing to see it go in because it was such an important game for us to win and he’s come up with the goods.
“With the players we’ve got in this squad, they’ve won a lot more titles than the young players so I don’t think anybody will get too ahead of themselves, including Adnan. He’s got a good attitude on him, he wants to get better and we’ve all got the best examples in front of us to do that. He’ll get a lot of publicity but I think he can handle it.”
After such a morale-boosting comeback win, it feels frustrating that the club calendar breaks for a bout of internationals, but Tom says the players will all return determined to build on this result.
“We knew how important this was to come back,” he said. “It’s a good win to take into two weeks without a league game and now the focus is on the internationals – two massive games – and then we’re straight back into the thick of it with the Premier League and