Tom Cleverley has had to deal with a lot of negative attention over the last few years.
Having established himself as a Manchester United regular, some may say through default rather than having earned his place, he never really made the next step and became that Keane or Scholes figure everyone at the club hoped he would.
He has also struggled to make an impact on the international scene and became the subject of a petition from ‘fans’ who wanted him excluded from the England squad.
His move to Villa, I think, is a good one for all involved. The reception he was getting from United fans would have made playing unbearable for Cleverley. After three games, I think he already looks more relaxed and is saying all the right things.
There is no doubt we have not seen the best of the player yet. He has been thrown into a very difficult run of games. Although it started well with a win against Liverpool at Anfield, something Tom Cleverley never achieved as a Red Devil, as with everything, it will take a bit of time for him to find his feet. There is a part we as Villa fans can play.
While at the Arsenal match two weeks ago, I felt he had a quiet home debut but there is no doubt he will have enjoyed playing in an environment in which he is not permanently being critisised. If we continue to support him, I think we will eventually reap the benefits and enjoy watching a player whom Alex Ferguson clearly liked.
The deadline day debacle that led to Lambert securing Cleverley’s signature was not ideal and I was one of the many fans who was unsure if I wanted him at the club. But he is here now and we must support him.
This season I have felt proud of the reception we have given new and young players like Richardson, Sanchez and Grealish. It must be so nice for them to receive warm welcomes and they will be keen to prove themselves as a result.
We did support Cleverley against Arsenal and we must do it again this weekend against Manchester City if we are to see the best of a player who could be very important for us this season. He has been a scapegoat in recent years and it is time for a new start, allowing him to prove his worth and be appreciated for it.
In a facilitating atmosphere, it’s not out of the question that two of our midfielders could be in the England squad, which would be a sign that, as a team, the Villans are heading in the right direction.