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Moyes: Lay off Cleverley

ESPN staff
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Tom Cleverley has been made a scapegoat by Manchester United and England fans © Getty Images
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David Moyes has come to the defence of the under-fire Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley, insisting he is a "fantastic" player who is certain to have a bright future.

Cleverley was heavily criticised for his performance in United's 2-0 Champiosn League defeat to Olympiakos while a petition to ban him from England's World Cup squad gathered more than 10,000 signatures.

And United manager Moyes has given Cleverley a vote of confidence, saying: "He is a fantastic young player who is developing all the time.

"He's a great trainer here, someone who is the first out every day. He does his best in training and never gives it less than 100%. From my point of view, that is why Tom will be successful."

England manager Roy Hodgson and Everton's Roberto Martinez, who took him on loan to Wigan in the 2010-11 season, have also voiced their support for the 24-year-old and their dislike of the scapegoating of him.

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Hodgson said: "That petition does not impress me, I must admit. I'm disappointed that Tom, as a sensitive young man, has got to bear that burden.

"But I know one thing - he will come through it and when he does come through it and Manchester United start winning again, and he's starting to get praise for his performances, he'll be stronger for it."

Martinez added: "I just don't understand this campaign. It is not the way to encourage young players."

Meanwhile, Moyes has admitted his side need to create more chances if they are to turn their season around.

The Premier League champions have failed to score in two of their last three games and only had one shot on target against Olympiakos.

And United, who travel to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, have not scored three goals in a game since Boxing Day, when they edged Hull 3-2.

"We need to get back to creating more opportunities than we have done," Moyes said. "We've played quite well in games but not scored and taken our chances."

The Albion game will be United's first match for 11 days and Moyes said the break has been both a help and a hindrance.

He added: "It's allowed some players to get games, but it's also been a hindrance on the back of a bad performance and bad result against Olympiakos. We wanted to put that right much sooner but the way the fixtures worked out meant we didn't have a game."

Moyes was also pleased to see some of his squad players line up for their countries on Wednesday.

He added: "Darren Fletcher got a game with Scotland, Chicharito and Shinji Kagawa played too. People who have not featured as much as we would have liked."

Moyes also confirmed there would be "no change" in the United captaincy before the end of the season, with current skipper Nemanja Vidic set to join Inter Milan in the summer.

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