Aston Villa new boy Tom Cleverley is determined to prove his doubters wrong by revitalising his career in the midlands under Paul Lambert.
After a hectic transfer deadline saga which almost saw him end up at Everton, the Manchester United-owned midfielder completed a season-long loan move to Villa Park, with a view to £7.5 million permanent switch.
A highly-regard prospect when coming up through the Old Trafford ranks, Cleverley made 79 appearances for United following his first-team debut in August 2011, but a lacklustre 2013-14 campaign has since his once-promising reputation take a serious hit.
Often singled out for criticism during last season’s disappointing seventh-place Premier League finish, the 25-year-old is now facing a crucial spell at Villa Park, but he fully believes that he can get things back on track within his new surroundings.
‘I’m motivated to prove a few people wrong,’ he told the Birmingham Mail.
‘Hopefully that will also increase my performance levels too. First of all I’ve got to get into the team and hopefully play some part in a successful day at Liverpool on Saturday.
‘I’ve still got a league title and 13 England caps. You don’t turn into a bad player just because somebody says so on Twitter.
‘The year before last I won the title and played 20-odd games, so it’s swings and roundabouts.
After missing out on a place in Roy Hodgson’s 23-man World Cup squad, Cleverley also failed to earn a call-up to the recent squad, but the 13-times capped international maintains he can force himself back into England contention alongside new teammate Fabian Delph.
‘Firstly, I’ve got to get into the [Villa] team,’ he said. ‘Secondly, I’ve got to play well.
‘Thirdly, I want to help get Aston Villa back up in the top half of the table where they belong.
‘Then hopefully as a product of those three things I can get back into the England squad. That’s exactly what Fabian Delph has done, so I want to follow in his footsteps.’
A place in the starting lineup at Villa is no guarantee, however, with star man Delph, fellow summer signing Carlos Sanchez and Ashley Westwood all competing with Cleverley for regular first-team minutes.