Tom Cleverley has vowed to prove his critics wrong this season, as he seeks to establish himself as a regular in Louis Van Gaal’s formation, after a troublesome campaign that saw him become a pantomime villain for the United supporters.
Cleverley’s dismal performances attracted strong criticism from section of United fans last season, while some England supporters went as far as setting up an online petition to prevent the 24-year-old from being selected in Roy Hodgson’s World Cup squad. Cleverley, however, has looked a better player under Van Gaal during United’s pre-season tour and is determined to silence the critics this season.
“I want to prove a few people wrong. It makes you develop a lot thicker skin. You’ve just got to take it on the chin,” the United midfielder told the Mirror.
“It’s football. Fans are passionate, they like to see their team win and when their team isn’t, they’ve got a right to look at the team.
“Yeah, I got a bit of stick. It does hurt when it comes from your own fans. But I’m not going to dwell on it.
“I’ve learned a few things, off and on the pitch. Being a new dad as well, you learn how to live your life better. Hopefully I’ll improve because of it this year.”
The 24-year-old looked set for a move away from United this summer, as Everton were thought to be interested in his services, but has remained at Old Trafford and seems to have impressed Van Gaal during the club’s pre-season tour in the US, where he captained the team against AS Roma.
“We’ve got a new manager, it’s an exciting new start for the players and hopefully we can carry this form into the new season,” said Cleverley.
The England international insisted he’s not bitter at being left out of the England squad for the World Cup and admitted his performances hadn’t been good enough to guarantee him a ticket to Brazil.
“I did watch the World Cup,” he said. “But I think I made it hard for myself to go to Brazil, with not playing in the last three months of the season.
“I would have loved to have gone. I played in a lot of the qualifiers but I’m not bitter about it. I’m fully hoping to get back into the squad and help us get to the next Euros.”