Tom Cleverley joined Everton earlier this summer after his contract ran out at Old Trafford, and England international made his debut in a pre-season friendly against Swindon. Everton boss Roberto Martinez is confident of getting the former Villa man back to his best, but can he really do it?
Getting the best out of the midfielder will be a big challenge for the Spaniard, as Cleverley has promised a lot but not quite reached the levels that he is capable of.
The Toffees boss believes that Everton’s strong English core will allow Cleverley to make an easy transition into life on Merseyside. He said speaking to Sky Sports: “He had a good connection with the England footballers, but straight away he has adapted really well in the way of working and playing, and you can see that he has terrific Premier League experience.”
The Spaniard is right, Cleverley has already played over 100 Premier League games in his career so far, a decent return for a 25-year-old, and has 13 England caps under his belt, too.
He does have experience, which is a bonus, but what is telling about those numbers is they illustrate that this is a player who’s been unable to truly nail down a permanent spot wherever he’s been. He’s spent loan-spells at Watford, Leicester, Villa and Wigan, where he played under Martinez, and some of these switches were successful, yet there is the feeling that Cleverley is an overrated player who hasn’t performed.
He has been tarnished with that brush and it has hindered the former Wigan man through his career so far. Martinez will have confidence in his ability to get the best out of Cleverley, who did enjoy his best Premier League spell under the stewardship of the Spanish manager. He was a key player in Wigan’s successful survival campaign, putting in some fantastic performers in the 2010/11 season. At that point it looked as though Cleverley would become a regular at Old Trafford after finishing his time at the DW Stadium.
That did not materialise, but Cleverley has potential that just needs to be unlocked and Martinez will do that. Leaving Old Trafford could be the best thing to happen to Cleverley, although he may not want to admit it. The move for the former Villa man to Everton is perfect, he no longer has the pressure of United hanging over him and he does not need to prove himself to United any more, just to Everton where the expectations are still high.
He has a clean slate at Goodison Park to show what he can do for the Toffees, so the pressure is now off of Cleverley and he finally has the license and freedom to show why he was once so highly rated.
And in Roberto Martinez he’s under the right man. He gave him his chance and has already shown he can get the best out of him. He was only 20 then and now the best of Cleverley could be something for Toffees fans to get excited about.