After moving to Aston Villa on a season-long loan, with a view to a £7.5 million permanent switch in January, Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley is hoping to revitalise his once-promising career.
A highly-regarded prospect coming up through the Old Trafford ranks, Cleverley has made 79 appearances for United since his first-team debut in August 2011, but a lacklustre 2013-14 campaign has seen his reputation take a serious hit.
Also falling out of Roy Hodgson’s England plans, the 25-year-old was deemed surplus to requirements under new manager Louis van Gaal, but a fresh start at Villa could be just what’s needed to see him get back on track.
His United contract set to expire next summer, Villa Park could well become his home for the long-term if he impresses over the coming months, but, with new signing Carlos Sanchez set to fill the holding role, will the 13-times capped international be able to establish a regular place in the lineup with Ashley Westwood and newly-capped Three Lions man Fabian Delph around?
|2013-14||Team||Pos||Goals||Total Scoring Att||mins / Total Scoring Att||Big Chance Missed||Goal Assist||Total Att Assist||mins / Total Att Assist||Big Chance Created||Apps||Mins|
|Ashley Westwood||Aston Villa||MF||3||28||110.04||0||2||65||47.40||6||35||3,081|
|Fabian Delph||Aston Villa||MF||3||36||83.42||1||2||28||107.25||2||34||3,003|
|Tom Cleverley||Man Utd||MF||1||15||105.27||1||0||10||157.90||0||22||1,579|
Cleverley's underwhelming goal tally isn't of great significance, but it's his lack of creativity compared to the current midfield pairing which is somewhat concerning. In fact, even Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan had more assists (1) than him last season.
|2013-14||Team||Pos||Total Pass||Total Pass / apps||Pass Acc||Fwd Pass||Fwd Pass / Pass||Touches||Touches / apps||Pass / Touch||Apps||Mins|
|Ashley Westwood||Aston Villa||MF||1,628||46.51||82.86%||589||36.18%||2,062||58.91||78.95%||35||3,081|
|Fabian Delph||Aston Villa||MF||1,586||46.65||83.61%||497||31.34%||2,214||65.12||71.64%||34||3,003|
|Tom Cleverley||Man Utd||MF||1,137||51.68||89.62%||303||26.65%||1,373||62.41||82.81%||22||1,579|
It's evident that Cleverley heavily favours the passing game (nearly 83% of his touches were passes), while it's also positive news that his accuracy leads the group.
However, the obvious thing which stands out is his reluctance to make the forward pass. It's something which he was often criticised for at United and no explains his lack of assists last season. If he isn't adventurous enough on the pitch then he'll struggle to set himself apart from incumbent starting pair.
|2013-14||Team||Pos||Total Tackle||Total Tackle / apps||Tackle Acc||Duel Won||Duel Won / apps||Duel Success||Interception||Ball Recovery||Apps||Mins|
|Ashley Westwood||Aston Villa||MF||56||1.60||71.43%||92||2.63||51.69%||48||222||35||3,081|
|Fabian Delph||Aston Villa||MF||100||2.94||76.00%||251||7.38||60.05%||58||231||34||3,003|
|Tom Cleverley||Man Utd||MF||48||2.18||83.33%||89||4.05||51.45%||34||124||22||1,579|
Cleverley isn't especially known for his work of the ball, so it's reasonably surprising to see him come out quite well on the defensive side compared to his new teammates.
Delph obviously stands out for his willingness to battle for the ball but, when taking into account the sample size, Villa's latest addition can certainly put an admirable shift in, and much more effectively than Westwood it seems.
Ultimately, Cleverley is far from guaranteed spot in Paul Lambert's starting lineup, despite his United credentials, but it's clear that he has the ability to contribute to the squad, even if only on a rotational basis.
Whether that would be enough to convince the club to hand over the reported fee it would take to keep him in the midlands for good remains to be seen, but his form during the first-half of the season will no doubt be crucial towards determining where his future lies.