Aston Villa midfielder remembers Man United criticism ahead of FA Cup final

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Speaking ahead of the FA Cup final on Saturday, on-loan Aston Villa midfielder Tom Cleverley has remembered the criticism that haunted him during his time at Manchester United.

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The England international has spent this season on loan at Villa Park, following a difficult beginning to his career at Old Trafford.

After encouraging loan spells at Leicester City, Watford and Wigan Athletic, the midfielder was introduced into the United first team by Sir Alex Ferguson.

Red Devils fans didn’t take to the youngster, who was barracked incessantly during David Moyes’s ill-fated spell in charge.

“At times last year, it was my first taste of getting really criticised and that got magnified when you play at a massive club like United,” the 25-year-old admitted, speaking to the Telegraph.

“Sometimes I struggled with that. Sometimes things don’t come naturally. I see it with other players. Gareth Bale’s a fantastic player but you can tell he’s thinking about things a little bit.”

The Basingstoke-born player faded under the pressure.

“I try to take my mind off the criticism but football’s my life,’’ he continued.

“I love watching football. But I found myself not really wanting to watch ‘Match of the Day’ which is a shame. When a team like United are finishing seventh and you live in Manchester it’s hard to get out of the house.

The midfielder featured 31 times in the Premier League this season, scoring three goals.

However, the player has been revitalised under Tim Sherwood this season, rediscovering the form that once made him such a highly-rated player.

He will likely play a key role on Saturday afternoon as Villa, where he moved on loan at the beginning of the 2014-15 season [via BBC Sport], meet Arsenal at Wembley.

“Now we want to finish the job off,” Cleverley claimed boldly, looking ahead to one of the biggest matches of his career.