Tom Cleverley has revealed his relief at getting away from the negativity surrounding Manchester United, and concedes that he can't see himself ever playing for the club again.
The midfielder completed a season-long loan move to Aston Villa after being deemed surplus to requirements under new manager Louis van Gaal, with a view to £7.5 million permanent switch ahead of his United contract expiring next summer.
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 has admitted that his career with the Red Devils is almost certainly over, and is looking forward to the chance of a fresh start in the midlands.
‘If I’m honest I don’t think I’d play for the club again,’ he told reporters. ‘Louis van Gaal is very straight with you. You know where you stand so I had to look elsewhere to enjoy my football, I suppose.
‘It was a tough season for us last year. If all the players say they were high in confidence last season I think they would be lying. It wasn’t just me. It was the rest of the squad too, that rubs off on the fans, too.
‘I’ve got away from the negativity of that and I’m now onto a new challenge which I can’t wait to get stuck into.
‘[Leaving United] is not something I was scared of. I know in modern day football it’s rare that anyone plays for one club for the rest of their life like Giggsy or Scholesy. It’s been a big part of my life.
‘Any footballer wants the best opportunity to play every week. It was common sense for me to try and get this move. I definitely see it as a step forward.’
After missing out on a place on Roy Hodgson’s 23-man World Cup roster, Cleverley also failed to earn a call-up to the recent England squad, but the 13-times capped international is confident that his spell at Villa Park can get things back on track.
‘I feel it can be an upward curve to getting my career back on track,’ he added. ‘I want to improve Villa. Then I want to try and get back into the England squad like Fabian Delph has. There’s a lot of things I want to achieve here.
‘Manchester United is in the past, my future is Aston Villa, that’s all I’m bothered about.’