A petition on Change.org to ban Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley from England's World Cup roster has already racked up 6,000 and counting in its first day of existence. Before we go any further on this matter, it should be noted that the deadline for submitting a final roster to FIFA isn't until June 2.
The petition, which was started by a Glenn McConnell from Blackpool, sums up the case against Cleverley as such:
Tom Cleverley, owner of 13 England caps, six more than Ross Barkley, Adam Lallana and Leon Osman combined, has been regularly selected by Roy Hodgson in his squads without possessing any genuine qualities whatsoever. We believe for the reputation of this proud footballing nation that he should be prevented from participating in this summer's international showcase. Whilst England are considered to disappoint at major tournaments, further embarrassment could be avoided by not having his inept performances undermine the rest of the team's efforts.
But instead of detailing how a 24-year-old who made 32 appearances for the Premier League champions last season doesn't posses "any genuine qualities whatsoever" or whether "for the reputation of this proud footballing nation" was intended to be sarcastic, this is the only message that will be sent to The FA:
Ban Tom Cleverley from the World Cup squad
That's it. Not even a period at the end of the message's only sentence. But there were plenty of insults for Cleverley left in the comments section by those who signed it.
There is only one outcome for this petition — it will almost certainly have no bearing on England manager Roy Hodgson's decision making process — but there are two for Cleverley himself. Either Hodgson decides Cleverley's form just isn't where it needs to be to make a World Cup roster with high competition for places and leaves him home, or he takes Cleverley and has to try and rebuild the confidence of a player who has been systematically targeted by angry fans all season.
As the primary scapegoat (aside from David Moyes) for Manchester United's disappointing season, Cleverley has already taken so much abuse that he decided to delete his Twitter account.
“I would like the fans on my side and it hurts a little bit when you have grown up at the club and love the club every bit as much as the supporters," Cleverley told The Mirror two weeks ago.
“My confidence has been a little bit low at times this season,” he added. “There is not much worse for a player than getting it off his own fans.
“Don’t get me wrong, I know I can do better but people are making a big thing about how I don’t score enough goals when that is not necessarily my first job in the team.”
There's nothing wrong with fans voicing their displeasure with underperforming players, but when it gets to the point where a human being who admits their self-confidence is already low has to delete social media accounts to protect themselves from the avalanche of abuse and then has a petition started to try and shun them from the national team, it becomes counterproductive. Also, making people feel sorry for the person you're targeting tends to undermine your cause.
Again, there are still three months before the World Cup roster is decided. There's still time to tell him he doesn't play for Spain and to stop passing the ball sideways so much in a constructive manner, boost his confidence and get more out of him, but the methods currently being employed won't help anyone. Cleverley's confidence will only sink further, his teammates will surely be disheartened by the treatment of him and the fans will have even more to frustrate them.
Pushing the abuse of Cleverley this far produces no winners. Not at the World Cup. Not anywhere.
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