Why Ashley Young makes sense for United

Ashley Young

AUTHOR: – Doron

Ashley Young has been linked to Man United for over six months now. Indeed, even in previous seasons, the young English winger has been the subject of transfer speculation columns. Rumours of a January bid have never been confirmed or denied but recent murmurs suggest a deal is imminent. Today, word from the Man United doctors via Mr Mujac was that Young had undergone a medical last Friday. With that and speculation in mind, here are a few reasons why signing Young may make sense…

1. Need for another winger in the squad?

It may not be the most obvious area to strengthen but is arguably necessary. The club currently have Nani, Valencia, Park, Giggs, Obertan and Bebe as ‘first team’ wide players. However the latter two have yet to to feature regularly at the top level and Obertan may well move on this summer. Giggs is more often used centrally rather than out wide today whilst Park is similarly often used in a tactical role rather than a purely wide role. Tom Cleverley is returning from his loan spell at Wigan and whilst he’s able to play wide, he is naturally a central player.

As witnessed this year, a couple of injuries have really stretched United’s resources in the wide areas. Valencia’s long spell out came at the same time as a couple of small Giggs injuries and Park’s long January international call-up. Situations like that are rare but injuries are unpredictable. It meant Nani was left alone to shoulder the burden of responsibility from September until the start of February. An additional winger would therefore give us complete cover in this part of the pitch.

2. Cost

Despite potentially having a sizeable transfer kitty, these are times where signings are often linked to ‘value’. Young is out of contract in a year so despite being English and therefore a victim of the inflated transfer fee, he would probably arrive at a very acceptable price, something between £10-15m. Additionally his wages would be in line with average wages at the club – a pay rise from Aston Villa wouldn’t need United to make him a top earner.

3. Experience and langauge

Young turns 26 this summer and may have only played 11 games in Europe, none of which in the Champions League, but he has 177 Premier League games to his name and understands the league well. He does of course speak English too, coupling that with the fact he knows the league, it should mean that any ‘settling-in’ period is reduced. Compare this with say a Neymar or Alexis Sanchez – both of whom would cost significantly more anyway – neither know the league or speak the language. Remember, it took Nani a good two and a half years to really find some consistent form. Even as a squad player, any signing who settles somewhat instantaneously is a bonus.

4. He scores and he assists

Young’s been incredibly consistent in the past four seasons. He’s scored 9 goals in each of them (yes some were penalties) but he has amassed 60 assists over that time. United’s wide areas have been fruitful in terms of both goals and assists since Ronaldo’s departure and Young would seemingly fit the bill in that respect.

5. Set piece taking and other strengths

If there’s been one area that has frustrated United fans regularly throughout the season, it’s been set piece taking – mainly from free kicks indirect and direct, and corners. Given United have players who can score from set pieces, Vidic being the obvious example, it’s disappointing that corners in particular rarely beat the front man. Ashley Young though is an excellent set piece taker. He’s shown his worth in that respect even against United, providing some undefendable balls in. Clearly it would be advantageous for United to have someone in their ranks who can take good set pieces, both indirect and direct.

The blueprint for a ‘United winger’ would generally have someone who is fast, a good dribbler, a player who wants the ball, and a good crosser. In truth, Young, fits those specifications. He may not excel in every category and there may be better players than him but he’s reliable and capable at all of those various facets. His crossing is something that would be interesting – United’s strikers tend to feed off good balls in, certainly Rooney’s best season directly coincided with Valencia’s good crossing. Chicharito too, has shown this year he likes to get on the end of crosses. Despite being right footed, Young is comfortable on the left hand side, two good crossers on either side would be handy.

6. Chasing a win, and away from home he’d be a good choice

What United don’t have right now is a third attacking winger. Young is probably under-appreciated in terms of the defensive work he does but he is an attacking player. When needing a win or wanting to switch to be more positive away from home, Young would represent a good option off the bench. Valencia and Nani are the two key attacking wingers we have right now but if both start and one needs replacing then Young would probably be a better option to bring on than Park if a win is needed.

7. Ability to play at a better level?

Young’s attitude is questionable, he has a cocky arrogance about him and has played recently like he wants to leave Aston Villa. However, plenty of United players have that arrogance and indeed some is needed. Young has carried Villa along with a couple of other players and a step-up may be the challenge he needs. Plenty of players before him have proven that when playing with better footballers their game naturally improves – i.e. Yorke, Valencia, Smalling etc.


Young may not be the player every fan would want but arguably the wide positions are an area that could do with some added competition. Clearly many fans believe that the central area needs improving more than out wide and should a central player not be signed then it would make this potential signing a strange one. There is the belief United need to improve the starting XI rather than the squad, but I do believe that we are a natural winger short out wide. However, financially it makes sense and Young fits the bill in terms of what is required of a winger at United. Certainly, a player who can take set pieces and contribute to the side would be a good acquisition.

Should this deal go through at an acceptable fee then this will make sense for United in both the short-term and the long-term. Underwhelming? Maybe, but there’s some logic to this.

AUTHOR: – Doron

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34 Comments on Why Ashley Young makes sense for United

  1. I agree with what you say. While he’s probably not first choice for united fans, he’s been a solid performer with villa and can definitely provide some delicious crosses for the strikers. I just hope we don’t pay over the odds. I certainly wouldn’t complain if he was in the squad.

  2. On his day, Ashley Young is incredible. He should be and probably is not Englands first choice winger/attacking midfielder.

  3. Good read. Ashley Young and De Gea are very good signings.
    Ashley Young is very consistent and may be what we need.
    However, I also feel that we need a stronger midfield. Maybe De Rossi, Snijder and maybe Muntari may be good options.
    To conclude, Young would be a good attribute to our spuad and may give additional competition on the wings.

  4. I think he’d be a decent signing but for no more than say ten million. I’m not sure we desperately need a winger considering that if worst comes to worst we’ve still got the Da Silva’s etc to cover it. If we do get one I’d rather an actual left sided player was chosen instead of having perhaps three of the best wingers in the league fighting it out for one place and not being fully effective on the left. Ideally you’d also really want a top quality left player and to keep Park as second choice although off the top of my head I cant think who. Silva would of been a good choice last season

  5. The beauty of Ashley Young is that he can also play as a creative attacking midfielder. I firmly believe that he would be a great signing and would fit into our European and PL sides effortlessly

  6. A good point about him being a potent attacking threat to be thrown on to influence the game, but in truth, will he be willing to warm the bench. If he is to be purchased, I think the great man will look to play Nani down center.

  7. Villa fan here, you’ll get alot of mixed views on our Ash, however he is a wonderful player and is our best player by a country mile, not his fault our only attacking outlet his him. All the best Ash, you’ve served us well and sure you’ll get a better reception than the other two muppets on the other side of Manchester.

  8. Young is too similar to what we already have and he is not the type of player who will be interested in sitting on the bench. Therefore i feel we need a player who is young and has potential will be happy to be a squad player for a while and them eventually take over from the current first team wingers. I feel we also need a left footed player. Has anyone seen griezmann from real sociaded. He is like a young giggs. Exactly what we need at this time. Please fergie sign him up. Anyone else agree.

  9. I think young would be a good addition to the team and would be comfortable an the left than Nani is,so what to do with Nani?Nani could go central but he don’t like to track back,Valencia is ahead of Nani an the right because of his defending duty?I really think we need a ball winning midfielder in the team,with Tom Cleverley coming back will be a good attacking option from central midfield and he a good passer of the ball.

  10. If Ashley Young was “naturally” left-footed then his stock would be higher. The real question is: can he command a first-team place ahead of Nani and/or Antonio Valencia ? My answer would be “NO”. Would he strengthen the squad – YES. Would that be enough for him ? MAYBE.

  11. Not to forget, he’s a player who is being courted by Liverpool and I think would probably be quite successful in offering the width they are screaming for…

  12. In a 4-2-3-1, he can play any of the three attacking midfield roles. On top of that, he’s in the prime of his career, he can be had for a reasonable fee, and he has premier league experience. How many players in the world meet all of those criteria? As long as he’s willing to fight for a place in the team, and able to bear occasionally sitting on the bench, he’d be a great pickup. However, Liverpool need him much more than we do (and can offer him a guaranteed starting role, which we can’t) and might provoke a bidding war. In that case, we shouldn’t pay a fee over 15 million pounds for him.


  14. Also it’s the line of least resistance, as you’re very unlikely to be able to bring in Sneijder, Bale, Modric etc to add spark to your ageing midfield. You will probably end up signing Rodwell for the same reason ie Everton need money. Line of least resistance again.

  15. I agree he would be an excellent addition to the squad HOWEVER the benchmark is Barca after Saturday night. I personally want signings to strengthen our first team and not just squad signings.

  16. @Oz Red

    The benchmark has to be primarily the league, it’s the longer, harder competition. Remember we won the league because of a good squad, we have to continue to add to it as well as the first team. As noted in the piece, hopefully a CM will follow.

  17. ashley young we be good signing for man utd, he can score and he can drible and he always play at left wing. after that young we need snelder to bost our mid filed problem

  18. i dont even need to read your article to desagree. purchasing young would be a waste of money on a player who wouldnt add any dimension to our team. as last night showed manchester united are the second or third best team in europe miles behind barcelona and maybe on part with madrid. for united to be best in the world they need true world class players. one of the reason why united sufered against the catalan team on saturday was our inabilty to keep posssion which was highlighted by the number of times park and valencia gave the ball away, the former ran his socks off for the cause but lost the ball soon as he nipped it or received it from a team mate; the later tracked back hard but was never able to affect our attacking game. now of course young has bit more quality than those two such as vision and perhaps mobility and movement but i dont think he would have done any better in that game because with all his crossing and passing ability he isnt tricky he cant drible in tight situations and as we saw last night you neeed more of that to compete against the best, being too direct or kicking and running to outpace your opponent dont work you have to have a close control to be able to find space turn an oponant then run at them; an ability to tease and look for link ups like a nani would do. dribling ability is really what sets nani and young apart both have a good cross nani could be better on the left wing and young could have a better vision like through balls. lack of dribling skills makes young one dimentional just like tonio v was last night at wembley because it gives you time and space to link up one twos execute crosses trough balls and shots. nani world class, he came on 15mns to go and had a shot on goal something valencia couldnt manage in senty five, and that came from him receiving a ball in a tight spot on the right wing, facing

    united half his oriented control took him toward the centre and scholes (note: a simple standard control would have invited pressure from behind which would have pushed him to pass it back to valencia then back to vandersar) he continued his run scholes to rio to rooney then nani again where he left abidal stranded came on to his left could have sloted roo in for a through ball but took his chance with a shot off target. now it might seem irelevent but that litle oriented control helped him find space that control made sure his attackers cant put him under pressure that meant he can find the right pass and keep united ticking. valencia couldnt find that space and park couldnt keep the ball which meant more running for them and more pressure on united. so the morale of the story is manchester united need to buy world class players not the so called ones. sure young can help us maintain in the premiership but he isnt the type of player who would help us to the top of the world. instead i would love to see SANCHEZ sporting that read jersey next season. i spent the whole season wanting an attacking mid not anymore am liking the 4-4-1-1 formation i think it could be develpped with the right players. next season i want see a squad like this: rooo&chich back up by berba welb&chico. left wing sanchez backed by park cleverly obertan. right wing nani backed by valencia bebe. central mid i think we gotcenough in this area with ando fletch and carrick who i must say did well on saturday compared to rome but i want us to add a derossi or diara which would give us creativity and bithe same time. deffence maybe contrao because evra has been slacking.l and dege in goal.

  19. @sean

    Fair enough. Can I recommend you do actually read the post though? Young is advocated as an addition to the squad rather than a first XI player. The post acknowledges too that other signings, particularly in the CM area for the first XI are required.

    Whilst I’m sure a lot of that is valid, it’s relating it to one game, specifically last night when United lost to the greatest side of this generation isn’t putting the squad into perspective. United play week in week out in the league, where they don’t face this current Barcelona team. The league being the competition that we more regularly play in has to be the priority and you try to make Europe work too. It would be naive to simply suggest, we have to buy to challenge Barcelona… we have to buy to improve ourselves and the squad too. The league was won because of the squad not just an individual or two. Someone like Young could therefore make some sense.

    United’s spending policy in general has been to sign players with potential, rarely to sign those at the peak of their game. I don’t expect that will change this summer. Cleverley is a central midfielder by the way, he can play out wide but his primary role is through the middle. Sanchez would cost at least double Young, maybe even triple and doesn’t speak the language nor has PL experience. He’s a talent but it took Nani two and a half years to reach a consistent level for example.

  20. I’m excited by this signing, english, should be cheap(ish) and I really think our staff will add so much more to his game, and improve on his skills.
    De Gea, I don’t know to much about him other than listening to @GuillemBalague the other day, all positive. I just hope he don’t get homesick, like Pique.

    As for midfielders, I like Nuri Sahin for some creativity in midfield. We’ve also lost hargreves too, we all would have liked him to recover, gard working ball winner…what we needed v Barca. I not sure and this, although I’ve always admired Lassana Diarra, anyone else?

  21. Young is a vry good player. We all talk as if we don’t watch him play. He’s simply fantastic. Wen in top form he probably plays better than our wingers. I think We need sneijder & Hamsik & off we go. Bring back barca.

  22. Also platini`s anti premier league rule comes into effect soon,ie the foreign player rule.So buying english players is wise.

  23. i think Young would be a bland signing we dont need. he isnt better than nani, and we nned better. Barca were supurb and Young wont bring us nearer to that, so whats the point. if we sign hum he will prevent a youngster getting a chance because young would take up a squad place. i think he is predictable player, his passing rate isnt any better than an average player in the league and he offers no skill. he will probably do well playing against teams in the premier ship but then so does 37 year old giggs and a 36 year old scholes. jesus you really thing giggs, scholes, young carrick are good enough to beat barca or madrid. mental. no we need better signings and a better approach to the game. no hoof and run. but…dare i say it..pass and move…

  24. It’ll be nice to see one of my towns heroes playing for United…. being a Stevenage boy and player that went to the Barclay school. It would be immense to see him play for the Devils…. hes got some decent crosses … and united have lacked in set peice since Ronaldo has left… hes got it all… now all it’ll take is a Little bit of the Sir Alex Remedy to push him to where he should be 🙂 xx

  25. Young flatters to deceive. I am a season ticket holder at Villa and trust me- he is not a ‘set piece’ expert- far from it. For every good free kick he takes there are 10+ awful ones- and I do mean awful!!! If he plays out wide then he can occasionally deliver a a great ball- but he believes his best roll is playing just behind a striker like (Rooney) so it would be interesting to see how SAF plays him if he signs. I dont think he is as good as Nani or Valencia with the ball and Downing has had a far better season for us than Young. I dont mind Young going for £15-20m as we have a better replacement in Allbrighton- the one I wouldnt want to loose would be Downing.

    One part of Youngs game that has improved over the last couple of seasons is his diving ability- so he will fill the boots of nani and your ex ronaldo in that respect. Overall- good business for Villa but if I were a United fan I wouldnt get too excited just yet!

  26. young a good player but not at united. How many good players have we got at united? most of them are useless and i am sure many will leave this summer. What i am trying to say is GOOD is not enough for manchester united. If the the club want to reach the levels their aspire to then they should spend big on EXCEPTIONAL players. I know its good to buy english\british players but right now theres only one out there who could improve our team thats jack wilshire who we will never get. Forget the youngs rodwell henderson these are good prem players but their are definatly not world beaters.

  27. The only signing that makes us better than Barca is Messi (anybody have 200 million pounds lying around?). Its much more realistic to plan for the league. As long as we’re ahead of City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs, and the rest of the league, we’re in great shape. The way i see it, we need 4 players: 1 GK (De Gea), one tackling midfielder (Lass Diarra or Rodwell), one creative holding player (Modric would be ideal, but he’s just too expensive), and cover for the attacking midfield line (Young). Combine that with Welbeck returning, the Da Silva twins improving, and Smalling becoming a full time replacement for Rio, we’ll be favorites to win the league next season. And that’s the most important thing. Europe is just 7 or so contenders with relatively even chances to win, and then massive favorites Barcelona.

  28. wat part of we need a left footed world class winger do people dont understand.
    Get me a ribery or bale Some1 whose got goals in them also.
    imagine if we play barca next and we field something like
    de Gea, fabio rio vidic evra,valencia l.diara carrick park riberry, roo
    in a 451 it would b game on . God dam we got money lets spend. Anatha loss to barca wld be heartbreaker

  29. I’ve always rated him and the stats back up his ability & I would like to see an addition to the left side.

    The big problem for me is he is not a natural left footer.
    We already have Nani who’s contributed to about 45 goals this season, he generally cuts in from the left, Park pretty much runs in field, then there are Cleverly & Welbeck to come back from loan.
    Welbeck has played most of this season playing leftside of a 3 man front line & Cleverly is a more central based player who again has been playing wide.

    It would make more sense to go for Bale who can attack the by line although he would be expensive & IMO a little over rated. The other player who would give us something different would be Downing. Not a bums off seats exciting player but his left footed delivery is probably 2nd to none in the premiership, he would offer a very similar early ball to what Becks used to provide from the right, agin great with set pieces too.

    I totally get everything mentioned in the blog but improving the squad is not what we require now, but improving the quality of the first XI.
    We know the squad can see us through a season in the league but our big game record is sliding.
    At one time I was confident in us going to any premiership ground and taking all 3 points or performing in cup final ala Saturday.
    We got beat at all the big team grounds this season and couldn’t live with Barca.

  30. You need 4 solid wide players to win league title so Young may look excessive now but we do not know when Giggs retire.

    I always think team need to plan ahead so more than 1 year of integration time for young is good idea, I guess.

    I don’t understand of comparing with Barca. Those individual players are not a big deal, team work, game plan ,hard work and versatility made Barca looking good no more no less. Plz keep in mind current MUFC team in the process of rebuilding. There is no chance, player like Valencia and Chica play calm against full seasoned squad Barca with all sort of experience in domestic and international level.

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