Ex-England striker likens Cleverley's improvement to Benteke's

James Beattie highlighted the progress made by players under Tim Sherwood in recent weeks.

James Beattie has paid credit to Tim Sherwood for the way he has helped a number of players improve since taking over at Villa Park, with Saturday's match winner against West Ham Tom Cleverley the latest man to star.

The former Southampton and Everton striker said on BBC Sport that he has been impressed with the work the Villa boss has done in developing the confidence of his players, and he has compared the Manchester United loanee's developing form to that of top scorer Christian Benteke.

"You have seen it with Christian Benteke and now you are seeing it with Tom Cleverley," Beattie said on Final Score. "Tim Sherwood has given the players confidence and told them they are good players.

"If you give the players freedom to express themselves on the pitch this is what you get. Tim has gone in there and done a fantastic man-management job. A few weeks ago Aston Villa were clearly in a false position."

Cleverley is arguably in the best form of his life as Villa come into the final weeks of the season in superb form, and it was his goal that settled the match against the Hammers. The England midfielder only scored five goals in three seasons playing regular football at Old Trafford, but has now scored in three consecutive games for the Villans.

The 25-year-old proved earlier in his career that he could be someone capable of finding the back of the net, when he scored 11 times in a loan spell at Watford in 2009-10, but it is only recently under Sherwood that he has been able to roam forward and contribute in and around the penalty box so effectively.

Beattie's point about Sherwood is vital, and there have been few managerial changes that have revived a club quite as much as when the former Spurs boss took over.

Benteke's form has been there for all to see, but almost every player has raised his game in the last couple of months, and Cleverley may well find himself back around the England squad if he keeps these kinds of performances up.

With his contract with United set to expire this summer, Villa may well have competition for the midfielder's signature, but considering how well he's doing under Sherwood, why would he want to sign for anyone else?

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