Cleverley keen to stay after his goal edges Villa towards safety
Aston Villa 1 West Ham 0
Tom Cleverley is ready to open talks with Aston Villa over a permanent move after rebuilding his reputation away from Manchester United.
Cleverley will be offered a deal by Tim Sherwood, the Villa manager, next month and the midfielder has insisted that his decision would be motivated by a desire to progress his career, rather than money.
The 25-year-old's form has improved significantly since the arrival of Sherwood in February. Ray Lewington, the assistant to England manager Roy Hodgson, was in attendance on Saturday as Cleverley scored his third goal in three games.
Cleverley's revival is certain to ensure that he has options this summer, with Everton, Southampton, Schalke and Valencia also interested in taking him on a free transfer.
However, Cleverley has given the strongest hint yet that he would consider joining Villa after admitting that Sherwood's appointment had revitalised his career. "I've really got to like playing for this club in the last few months. This manager, you have to give him credit for getting me where I am over the last few weeks," Cleverley said. "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."
When asked if he had a point to prove after leaving United, he said: "Definitely, 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."
Cleverley's 31st-minute winner from close range, created by the outstanding Jack Grealish, secured Villa another crucial victory but the spectre of relegation remains. Sherwood's team are four points above the bottom three but surely safe, with games against Southampton and Burnley to come.
West Ham, however, are running on empty and their lack of threat up front was glaring. David Gold, the Hammers co-chairman, responded to criticism on Twitter with: "We are not winning because we are not scoring goals. Obvious. Our two top goal scorers (Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho) are injured." (© Daily Telegraph, London)