Tom Cleverley's forward-pass percentage this season: Criticism deserved?

Trinity Road Stand - Aston Villa

Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley is currently on loan at Aston Villa, but how well is he using his passing ability?

When Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley moved on loan to Aston Villa it looked like a good deal for all concerned.

The England international needed regular playing-time to show new manager Louis van Gaal what he could do and Villa needed quality midfield reinforcements.

But, after 22 appearances for Villa this season, it is fair to say Cleverley has not had the best of times and is struggling to make much of an impact at a club in need of a creative catalyst or two.

Cleverley is a fine passer, but he has been criticised for his lack of forward movement, of too often playing the easy ball.

It is that criticism that prompted this article, as we take a look at just how many of the Villa loanee’s accurate passes have been played forward this season.

  Total PassesAccurate PassesPass AccuracyForward PassesForward Pass Percentage
Tom Cleverley 1,008 880 87% 258 29%

As you can see from the table above, the United midfielder has played 1,008 passes in the league so far in this campaign, 880 of which have been accurate passes.

But of those 880, only 258 have been played forward – just 29 per cent of his total accurate passes.

What Villa need now is verve, energy, creativity, and new manager Tim Sherwood will look to introduce that as soon as he can.

Cleverley certainly has the talent to help in that regard, but he needs to stop taking the easy option. He needs to play passes with the risk of failing, rather than relying on the safe ball.

After all, we are rarely rewarded in life without taking a few risks along the way.

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