Tom Cleverley has aimed what some may perceive to be a jibe at Manchester United, by claiming that a move to Paul Lambert’s Aston Villa is a “forward step” for him as a player.
The ex-England international, who has had a year to forget after being axed from the national setup and ostracised for his form at Old Trafford, appears to be settling into his new club well, and told Aston Villa TV how he felt the departure from United would be beneficial for him.
Having failed to convince Louis van Gaal of his claim for a first-team place Cleverley was loaned to Villa the day after deadline day, joining the likes of Danny Welbeck, Shinji Kagawa, Javier Hernandez and Alexander Buttner in this summer’s exodus from the former Premier League champions.
Though once heralded as a bright player for the future the 25-year-old shouldered much of the criticism for the woes endured by the United faithful last term, and it was made apparent fairly early on that Van Gaal didn’t have him in his plans for this term.
What followed was a two-way fight between Everton and Villa for his signature, with the latter emerging triumphant the day after the transfer window had slammed shut, and capturing his signature until the end of this season.
For Cleverley the move gives him the perfect opportunity to silence his dogged doubters, and the chance to reinvent himself is clearly something he’s looking forward to doing.
“I feel it is a step forward for me, definitely,” Cleverley said.
“I’m genuinely excited by the move.
“It’s been a good first week, I’ve enjoyed training, been really impressed with the standard of the players, the facilities and everybody’s welcomed me really well.”
At the moment spirits are high at the Midlands-based outfit, with Villa having managed the claim seven points from their opening three games. Despite having flirted with relegation during the last campaign Lambert’s charges look more secure this time around, and the fact that they’ve been able to retain senior figures such as Christian Benteke and Ron Vlaar has further aided their cause.
United's continued woes
Of course the same can’t be said for United, who have yet to win a Premier League fixture this season. A debut appearance from Angel Di Maria wasn’t enough to inspire the Red Devils to victory against newly-promoted Burnley prior to the international break and Van Gaal will most certainly be expecting his side to do the business when they face QPR this weekend.
Over £150 million has been spent to bring the Dutchman’s side up to speed with the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea, and more money has been made available for the January transfer window as well.
It would seem that the days of the club relying on home-grown players such as Cleverley and Welbeck are over, though that doesn’t seem to be bothering them too much.