Free of the injuries which curtailed a storming start to his 2011/12 campaign, Tom Cleverley is making his mark as a goalscoring tempo-setter in Manchester United's midfield...
Your recent strike at Upton Park put you on four for the season – do you have a goals target for this term?
I have a target in my head, yes, but I’m going to keep it to myself. Scoring goals is something that’s starting to come together in my game now. I’ve managed to do it out on loan and I was hoping it’d just be a matter of time before they came along for United. I was happy with the one at West Ham. I saw [Jussi] Jaaskelainen hurrying to the other side of his goal, so I put it inside the far post.
What did you think of United’s other goal in that game, scored by Robin van Persie?
I’m sure everyone appreciated how good it was, even if they did make it look easy. From a footballer’s point of view, the most impressive thing was that Robin was under pressure as well. It’s not like he had a free space to run into, the defender has stuck tight to him and he’s still managed to take the pass and finish it. It was world class.
It took a little while for you to get off the mark this season. Had it started to play on your mind?
Yeah, a little bit. I missed a couple of chances with England, too, but the main thing was I was in the right spot. I’ve worked hard on my finishing on the training field with Rene [Meulensteen], and now it’s starting to pay off. The work doesn’t stop here just because I’ve scored a few, though – I aim to get more.
You’re our top-scoring midfielder - on the same tally as defenders Evans and Evra…
I know! Four each. As long as we’re winning, that’s what matters. It can only help if goals are coming from all areas of the pitch. We’ve been good from set pieces this year and hopefully other players on the pitch can take a bit of pressure away from our strikers. It’s a team effort, we’ve got a really good team spirit here and we’re all in this together.
How would you assess the season so far from a personal perspective?
At the start of the season, the first thing I wanted was to be injury free. Including internationals and Olympics I’ve played more than 30 games already this season