New Everton midfielder Tom Cleverley says it was an “easy” choice to link up with the Toffees, despite his 15-year association with Manchester United.
Cleverley signed for the Merseyside club on a free transfer after spending last season on loan at Aston Villa, thereby ending his association with the Red Devils, where he started off as a fresh-faced 11-year-old.
While Cleverley, now 25, had fond memories of his time at Old Trafford, including lifting the 2012-13 English Premier League (EPL) title, he is keen to move on to the next chapter of his life and showcase his qualities at his new club.
“Obviously it’s (leaving United) massive, considering that I’ve spent more than half of my life there,” he told assembled media from the sidelines of the Premier Skills Community Festival held at Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore on Tuesday evening.
“There are plenty of ups and downs, which is common in football. Winning trophies is something I’ll never forget and I’ll always look back on it with fond memories.
“But there are no regrets because Louis Van Gaal has been really honest with me, which is really what you ask for as a player. I wish them the best and I’m concentrating on Everton now.
“It’s a great football club with great fans and a lot of history. Also I’ve worked with (Roberto) Martinez (at Wigan Athletic) so I was excited to get back with him. So it was a decision that was easy to make.”
Cleverley believes his move to Everton could be the tonic to reignite his hopes of being an England regular under Roy Hodgson. Despite having made his international debut three years ago, the midfielder only has 13 caps to his name so far.
“It’s definitely the pinnacle of football to represent your country,” he said.
“I managed to get into the squad at the end of last season but obviously I want to get a few more caps. It helps that Everton has a lot of young English internationals so hopefully I can get some good time under my belt and get back into the international scene.“
Everton will commence their Barclays Asia Trophy campaign against Stoke City on Wednesday. The winner of the tie will progress into Saturday’s final, where they will take on either Arsenal or the Singapore Select XI.
Cleverley hopes that his side can put up a good show in this tournament as he targets a top-six finish in the upcoming season.
“I’m still settling into this team and it’s nice to have seven or eight days together where I get to know everyone a bit more,” he said.
“Singapore looks like a really nice city, but we definitely we need to cope with the humidity here. We’ve been doing heat training back at home, but there’s nothing like experiencing it here. We cannot afford to just run around for 90 minutes.
“As a team, we’re looking to improve on last season and finish as high as possible. We finished in the top six a year ago (2013-14), so that’s a realistic goal to work towards.”