Cleverley, 24, joined United as an 11-year-old back in 2000 from Bradford City, and worked his way through the club's setup, using loan spells at Leicester City, Watford and Wigan Athletic to eventually force his way into the United first team under Sir Alex Ferguson.
Once a highly rated England international, things turned sour for Cleverley last season, with fans making the midfielder a scapegoat throughout the dismal David Moyes era at Old Trafford. However, Cleverley now says that the criticism he received has helped him grow as a player and as a person ahead of the new season.
"It makes you develop a lot thicker skin," he said. "You’ve just got to take it on the chin. It’s football. Fans are passionate and they like to see their team win. And when their team isn’t winning, they’ve got a right to look at the team. I will use it as a learning curve and not dwell on it as a negative.I definitely want to prove a few people wrong."
Cleverley's game is based around high energy pressing and good passing, which makes him a perfect fit for van Gaal's brand of football - he's particularly similar to Dutch midfielder Jordy Clasie, who was picked by van Gaal for the World Cup in Brazil this summer. Having been made captain for the pre-season friendly against Roma in America, Cleverley's future under the Dutchman looks bright - despite rumours of interest from Everton.
"We’ve got a clear way we are going to play under the new manager," Cleverley added. "We all believe in that, we are all following that and I think the main thing is we are playing as a team again. Under the new manager we are being told to think of things as a team but personally it has gone well. I definitely think I can fit into the way he plays. I don’t think I have got to make much adaptation because he likes passers, movers, and people who understand the game."
United still need new central midfielders given the failure of Marouane Fellaini and injury to Michael Carrick, and whilst the club are seemingly pursuing a deal for Juventus star Arturo Vidal, the resurgence of Cleverley would be a huge boost for van Gaal and all at United - but the midfielder still has some way to go before he can make fans eat their words this season.