Aston Villa Fears Eased Byrevived Cleverley

It has been quite a renaissance for Tom Cleverley and, maybe soon, there will be a petition demanding an England recall.

Published: 10th May 2015 10:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th May 2015 10:00 AM   |  A+A-


It has been quite a renaissance for Tom Cleverley and, maybe soon, there will be a petition demanding an England recall. Three months ago, Cleverley trudged off the Villa Park turf with taunts ringing in his ears and Paul Lambert being forced to deny there was an agreement stating he should play every game while on loan from Manchester United.

The transformation under Lambert's successor, Tim Sherwood, has been remarkable, however, and he is now one of the key figures in Villa's survival mission.

Cleverley's third goal in three games was enough to settle the David Cameron derby, as it was dubbed in these parts, on a typically nervy afternoon in which Sherwood took another step towards safety. Villa are now four points clear of the dreaded dotted line and Cleverley's impact has been crucial.

It was not so long ago the 25-year-old was the target of an online petition demanding he was dropped from the England team, but now the prospect of a recall does not seem so outlandish.

"He's on loan to us but you can see how committed he is, he never leaves anything on the field," said Sherwood. "I'm sure he'll back in the England squad soon.

"We're going to have a chat with him at the end of the season and of course we'd like to keep him. I'm just going to tell him that if he doesn't sign he's not playing in the FA Cup final!

"We're heading in the right direction and the pleasing thing is it's in our own hands."

This was excruciating stuff at times for Sherwood, who paced around his technical area in the second half in an agitated state.

It was only the first time in 14 months Villa had won successive games at home, which should be enough to ease the tension ahead of next weekend's trip to Southampton.

Villa were dominant in the first half and the goal finally arrived in the 31st minute after an enterprising run from the excellent Jack Grealish. It was the first time the teenager had challenged the Hammers defence as he eluded Stewart Downing to tee up Cleverley for a simple finish from close range.

West Ham were a different proposition in the second period. Suddenly, the mood was transformed and there was a nervousness about Villa.

Shay Given was required to tip over a header from James Collins on the hour and Enner Valencia had a goal disallowed for offside.

Sherwood was box-office value as time ebbed away, with substitute Gabriel Agbonlahor squandering a decent chance in injury time, but they did enough.

West Ham have not won away in 11 league games and Sam Allardyce, the manager, said: "For a number of weeks we've tried and tried to find the goals to win games and we can't find them, it's as simple as that. We've failed in front of goal and lost as a result."

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