Wednesday 20 November 2019

Cleverley puts happiness over money

Tom Cleverley is enjoying himself at Villa Park
Tom Cleverley is enjoying himself at Villa Park

Tom Cleverley has dropped the biggest hint yet he is ready to stay at Aston Villa and insisted money will not sway his decision.

The on-loan Manchester United midfielder is a free agent in the summer with his future under increasing scrutiny but h is winner in Saturday's 1-0 victory over West Ham was his third goal in three games and he has earned plaudits for helping haul Villa away from the Barclays Premier League relegation zone.

Tim Sherwood's team are 14th, four points above the bottom three with just two games left.

Villa want to keep Cleverley and he has been linked with Everton - who missed out on his signature last year - but the 25-year-old admits he could be ready to stay in Birmingham.

He said: "I don't think any Premier League players are going to be short of a quid or two. You have just got to be happy first of all.

"And I am at this club, so let's see where we go from there. I think first and foremost you have to be playing at a club where you fit in.

"Where you're playing in the position where you want to play and where you like the manager, the lads, this club ticks those boxes.

"We'll just see what happens but first the club have got to offer me something. Those talks haven't taken place yet. I just know my contract runs out on June 30 at Man United, that's my position."

Cleverley appears to have little future at Old Trafford - he struggled to land a regular role, playing 79 games in seven years.

A petition was also drawn up by fans last year to call for him to be banned from England's World Cup squad, although he missed out of the final 23 regardless.

But, despite his critics, Cleverley believes he has overcome his own doubts and can return to his best.

He said: "All players have doubts when they're having a not so good patch. I'm no different, but I've got my head down and worked hard.

"With the help of the lads and the new manager I can get back to my best.

"I feel in the last 10-12 games I'm getting back to what I know I can do, that always helps when you're playing every week in a winning team."

Sherwood added: "I think he was labelled the new Paul Scholes. There was a lot of pressure on him. He sprung onto the scene. Roy Hodgson has then got a decision whether there are better midfielders than Tom."

Defeat left West Ham searching for a first away league win since December but they could still qualify for the Europa League through the Fair Play table.

England finished second in UEFA's Fair Play table, earning an extra spot in the first qualifying round for next season.

The Hammers and Everton are likely to fight it out for the spot, with the pair facing each other on Saturday, but boss Sam Allardyce refused to consider anything other than victory.

He said: "I won't look at it that way. I don't want to know if we get less cautions than Everton, I want to go out there and beat them.

"I am not going to start telling players to watch what we do because we might not finish number one for the European Fair Play place, it is 'go out there, play your best and make sure you win'.

"If you do that the right way you will hopefully still be in the same position in the Fair Play.

"Our position is to try to get 50 points or better and finish in the top half where we have been all season. It will be very disappointing for me if we don't manage that."

PA Media

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