Former Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley has revealed that he was ‘scarred’ by the 2013/14 campaign at the club in which he struggled for form.
The season saw the arrival of David Moyes as the club’s new boss – the first time United had made a managerial appointment since 1986, when Sir Alex Ferguson took charge.
Cleverley was one of the final players to emerge from the United academy and play a part in the first team under Ferguson.
And it was in 2012/13 that the midfielder broke into the first team on a regular basis, making 32 appearances in all competitions and scoring four goals.
He went on to make another 31 appearances in the following campaign, but struggled for form throughout the season. He was criticised by fans for his performances, and when he was named in an England squad in March 2014, there was even an online petition set up to have him dropped.
Now, in a new interview, the current Watford midfielder has reflected on that particular campaign.
Cleverley on Man Utd struggles
Speaking on an episode of the official Manchester United podcast, the 32-year-old explained: “I’m not shy to admit that the season with David Moyes scarred me a lot. I’m not saying anything bad about David Moyes – I thought he was a great football manager.
“But that season, 2013/14, mentally scarred me. I lost confidence and I think when it sort of scars you for a few years, you start to doubt yourself and things like that.
“I think on a football pitch, as I say, you need to be instinctive in everything you do. So if you’re second-thinking every decision you make, you become half the player you should be and I was doing that for a season.”
He added: “At the time I was playing poorly, and it was really the start of social media being toxic and I found it hard to deal with, to be honest.
“I didn’t help myself at times. People sort of probably got the wrong impression of me sometimes when I first burst on the scene. I had this haircut and things like that.
“You take a period of time finding yourself and I’d not quite done that until I was in my mid-20s. I think that’s the one thing maybe and I’ll never speak bad about David Moyes, like I said. But I think, I kept playing.
“I think the manager would have taken, Sir Alex would have taken me out of the firing line, get six weeks out of the team, get your head back, get your form back, get fit and then sort of reset.”
Now playing in the Championship for Watford, Cleverley also had a spell at Everton after leaving United permanently in 2015.
He was able to play with some of the greats during his time at Old Trafford – including legendary midfielder Paul Scholes.
He recalled: “I just remember the training with Scholesy and being jealous of how good he was!
“I’m competing with this guy who doesn’t misplace or mishit one ball. Yeah, it does wind you up some days. You think, ‘How am I going to get in this team?'”