Tom Cleverley has admitted his lack of goals for Manchester United was starting to get to him.
The 23-year-old managed to find the net during loan spells with Leicester, Watford and Wigan but for United he was just drawing a blank. Even Sir Alex Ferguson felt compelled to give him a half-time dressing down at Old Trafford on Wednesday after the midfielder had somehow failed to convert a golden chance set up for him by Javier Hernandez.
The England man clearly took the hint and stroked a shot into the corner to hand his team a 2-1 Capital One Cup win over Newcastle. He said: "It has been playing on my mind a little bit. I have always scored goals when I have gone on loan, so it was bugging me that I had not been doing it for my club or my country."
He added: "The gaffer gave me a bit at half-time for missing the one in the first-half, so it was nice to stroke that one in.
"We practice those sorts of finishes a lot so when the ball came to me I knew what I was going to do. I have got the first one out of the way now. Hopefully they will all come at once."
It was a well-timed goal too as England coach Gary Neville was in the stand, with Roy Hodgson a week away from announcing his England squad for the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Poland.
Wayne Rooney's return at Old Trafford means Cleverley has a major rival for the role he filled to such great effect in Moldova earlier this month, only to attract heaps of criticism for wasting more scoring opportunities against Ukraine at Wembley four days later.
Not that Cleverley regrets Rooney's recovery from a gashed thigh. Far from it.
Along with Darren Fletcher's first start in 10 months, he regards Rooney's involvement as one of the major bonuses to emerge from Wednesday night's game.
"It is fantastic to have them both back," he said. "Darren Fletcher is a big game player and would bring positive things to any squad in the world. I am happy for him. Wayne came back and put in a good performance too, so we are getting stronger."
- Tom Cleverley
- Manchester United
- Sir Alex Ferguson