Aston Villa's on-loan Tom Cleverley happier in new role under Sherwood

The Manchester United loanee believes he is starting to get back to his best form with more license to express himself.

Aston Villa midfielder Tom Cleverley has admitted to the club’s official website that he was playing well below his potential prior to the arrival of Tim Sherwood, but is now relishing the attacking freedom he’s being afforded under the new boss.

Cleverley, 25, arrived on a season-long loan from Manchester United in September, with the aim of getting his promising career back on track following a testing 2013-14 campaign at Old Trafford.

His performances under the since-departed Paul Lambert came in for considerable criticism from the fans, however, with the Scot even forced to refute suggestions that he was being forced to start him due to a clause in the loan agreement.

After being booed off in last month’s 2-1 loss to Chelsea, the England international found himself out of the side for subsequent league defeats to Hull and Stoke, and facing the prospect of seeing out his Villa stint from the bench.

However, since being restored to the line-up with more license to express himself, the United product’s form has taken a noticeable upturn, for which he gives all the credit to Sherwood.

"Around January, I wasn't pleased with my form. I didn't do myself justice,” he said. "But now I feel like I am getting back into a good rhythm.

"I have a slightly different role in the team. I am playing centrally again. I think, too, that everyone is getting fitter and training is harder.

"I certainly feel good about myself - and so does everyone else. I have been given more licence to get forward but that's the same with everyone.

"The manager wants all the lads to be more positive,” he continued. "He has the mindset that winning one and losing one is better than drawing two. He likes to play football with a bit of a gamble and it's certainly paying off."

Out of contract with United in the summer, Villa turned down the chance to exercise their £7.5 million option to make Cleverley’s spell permanent in the recent transfer window, but Sherwood hinted just last week that he could still have a long-term future in the West Midlands.

“We’re assessing everyone to see what we need to do,” he told the Birmingham Mail. “But Tom Cleverley is a player in his own right. He’s only young and he’s got a big future ahead of him.”

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