Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley is the subject of £8 million interest from Aston Villa as Paul Lambert seeks to add quality to his squad. This offer has recently been accepted.

But to many fans it has come across as senseless and idiotic, even dismissal-worthy if pushed.

Opposing fans have waded in too, taking delight in reminding Villa supporters that Cleverley is “the worst player in the history of football” and “wouldn’t look out of place at Championship level.”

Anyone suggesting this has, unfortunately, bitten hard on the false narrative that Manchester United fans have managed to generate surrounding the 25-year-old. The petition to ban Cleverley from the England squad is the equivalent of cyber-bullying; he is merely the ultimate scapegoat in one of the rockiest, lowest points in the Red Devils’ recent footballing history.

We say this as a fact: He is a good player who is very, very low on confidence. He excelled in Sir Alex Ferguson’s free-flowing 4-4-2 in 2012-13, making 18 starts, passing the ball well and serving a “nuts and bolts” function in central midfield behind Robin van Persie and Co.

That’s all conveniently forgotten because, after some time, it’s become clear he’s not quite Manchester United quality. That’s nothing to be ashamed about—United are one of the biggest sides in the world—but it’s warped the general perception of Cleverley to such an extent that some would believe he should even retire through lack of talent.

As it happens, Bayern Munich have decided to procure Xabi Alonso’s signature for a similar fee of around £8 million at the same time. That’s only increased the Cleverley-based jokes on social media, as if, somehow, Aston Villa had the choice of both and picked the latter.

While we’re at, let’s laugh at Hull City for taking Jake Livermore (£8 million) over Alonso too. He definitely, definitely would have moved to the KC Stadium earlier this summer after all.

Cleverley doesn’t need intense coaching or a seriously revamped role, more a manager who is willing to play him and a fanbase that won’t jump on his back.

He’s not flashy, he’s quietly effective. Even his strengths, such as his high passing percentage figures, have become a stigma as fans desperately try to find a fresh method of insulting him.

As it stands, no deal is done. A bid has been tabled and accepted for the player and he spent Thursday at Villa’s complex talking to the staff about the potential move. Unsurprisingly, other Premier League clubs have expressed an interest too and the player has some choices to make.

If it comes off for Lambert to the tune of £8 million, he’s signed an England international who keeps the ball on the deck and plays it simple. In an age where Villa Park attendances are dwindling due to the low standard of hoof-ball, it feels a little hypocritical for fans to be dead against this prospective signing.

October 18, 2013 – Source: Julian Finney/Getty Images Europe

It’s a punt in a similar mould to Aly Cissokho: the true scapegoat of Anfield during the 2013-14 season. He’s not good enough for a side who challenged for the Premier League title last year—plenty of players aren’t!—but that doesn’t make him a horrible player.

Early evidence suggests Cissokho is the solid left-back Villa have been searching for since Wilfried Bouma broke his leg in a UEFA Europa League qualifier, and Cleverley, should he secure the move, can go about reminding the masses how wrong they are about him, too.

Not being good enough for the biggest club in England =/= not fit to lace a pair of boots. Cleverley just needs a fresh start and an injection of confidence to reignite a once-promising career.

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