Man United shouldn’t discard Ashley Young


Author: Doron

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Luckily at United, a winning and successful club, fans’ favourites tend to far outweigh the scapegoats. One player who’s flirted with the latter though is Ashley Young, so much so that many seem to feel he is expendable. However, like it or not, Young has a role to play in this squad.

Maybe it’s the Football Manager craze (guilty!) or the clamour to appear knowledgeable online but there seems to have been an increase in the number of names assigned to playing roles, particularly in the central areas: trequartista, regista, enganche, mediano etc. Sure, these terms may have existed for a long time but their entrance into mainstream football terminology is a relatively recent phenomenon. Aside from annoy some people they have highlighted just how many different types of players play in the same areas – a very obvious observation but it creates conversation.

The two obvious areas for having a variety of styles are in the middle and up front. At United, one of the areas to have most diversity is in the wings, and we’re better for it. As a generalisation, the use of players in wide areas has changed a lot over the last 10 years. It’s become more common to have players who aren’t out-and-out wingers, rather, players who spend more time in-field before cutting out or players who have emphasis placed on supporting a striker. The idea of freedom and fluidity, maybe made increasingly popular by Spain and Barcelona of late has crept into the systems of numerous teams, including our own U21 side.

It’s difficult to pigeonhole how United use wingers today but over the last twenty years it’s fair to say that players who hug the touchline have been favoured. That probably changed around the time Ronaldo grew from a man into a beast and ultimately any semblance of team shape was lost as a team was built for him to flourish in. Since he departed, United have returned to a system that places emphasis on wide men and this is where variety comes in.

Different situations and different opponents requires tinkering with the team. United are fortunate that having five (including Giggs) wingers offers variation. For example when playing away from home against a rival it may be wiser to place emphasis on team shape and discipline over risk-taking and hence Nani and/or Zaha may not be considered as starters.

There are obvious similarities between Nani and Zaha – tricksters who’ll beat men for fun whilst having a varied end product. They’ll frustrate but they’re unquestionably the most fun to watch. Giggs is seldom seen out wide these days but his best performances last season still came there (not that his performances in the middle are much to compete with). Valencia is the ultimate one trick pony in that when he has his mojo, he’s hard to stop – direct runner with a consistently reliable final ball.

Then there’s Young, the player chosen by Ferguson last season to start games (when fit) against Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Man City twice – accounting for just under 30% of his league starts that campaign, impressive. When you think about it, it’s quite obvious why Fergie used to like him and select him in those games. Young may not have any party-tricks but he offers shape and a direct style. When he plays, whether on the right or the left, he sticks to the task he’s been given and protects his full back as well as any other United winger. He is a team player, not unlike Park was in many ways. Yes, there is a selfish streak to him and yes like every other winger his decision making isn’t always as good as it should be but there’s end product there. It is of little surprise that when he plays, the side, as a unit, tend to perform better.

Understandably his theatrics rub fans up the wrong way and many think he’s ‘just not a Manchester United player’ (although I do think that’s one of those cheap put-downs that doesn’t really mean anything other than ‘I don’t like him’ – but those kind of fans will see the title of this, won’t read it and just simply comment saying he should be sold) but as a collective, we tend to look a much better team when he’s in it because of the impact he has on allowing everyone else to get on with their roles. It’s a hard pill to swallow for those who expect more from a player, particularly when he’s up against some endearing characters and more unpredictable colleagues for a starting berth.

There is of course the ‘squad factor’. Young was a player signed for the squad, for use in some games and not every game. Successful sides need players like that but because they’re generally not the best in the team, they appear to be worse than they really are. The same is applicable to many United players over the last few years.

The final seed I’ll try to sow is that players who do simple things are more often the recipients of criticism rather than praise. It took until last season for people to appreciate what Carrick does and although I don’t think fans will have the same epiphany with Young, he offers a good source of balls into dangerous areas from out wide and is always keen to get a shot away when he has the chance. Those who look for flaws in his game will always find them but if you come at it from a neutral point of view, there’s as much there that’s useful as there is that’s not.

In a World Cup year, Young, like most English players in and around the national side, will be keen to excel and have a strong season – something that can only favour United. Fans are very quick to want players out of a club without considering the repercussions of what that means for the side – again the influence of computer games where chopping and changing a squad is all too easy (guilty, again). If unlike last season he’s able to stay fit he’ll have his uses for United, particularly when those with short fuses moan about how erratic Nani is and even more so when shape and allowing those in-field to be more creative (Kagawa in particular) become important factors in certain scenarios.

19 Comments on Man United shouldn’t discard Ashley Young

  1. I think you have summed him up pretty well, basically saying he is a completely average player. My biggest problem with him is he consistently cuts inside from the left and can’t beat the first defender with a cross on his right foot. Yes he’ll put in 1 or 2 good balls now and again, but time and again he hits the first defender. That’s not good enough.

    He looked excellent for Villa, but since coming to Utd I think he has struggled, and looked out of place. If he was 22-23 then it would be fine, but he was bought in as an experienced “proven” player. The only thing he’s proven for me is his ability to blow tepidly warm and ice cold, something when you speak to Villa fans he has done his whole career.

    I have the same worries about Fellaini, who’s looked excellent for an Everton team built around him, but just doesn’t have the quality for me to make the grade at Utd. We should be in the market for players that improve the 1st XI, not the squad. That’s the only way we will get back near to winning the Champions League.

  2. Ashley Young is a dependable player who you can rely on to help out his full back but is too predictable. When playing on the left everybody knows he’s going to cut inside and cross it without even looking. This isn’t good enough for somebody who is the fourth highest paid player at the club

  3. I like Young. I don’t care if he doesn’t do tricks, it’s not always necessary. He’s one of the best wingers in the league. Would definitely want to keep him in the United squad. I’ve liked what I’ve seen on many occasions. Not loved but liked. Above average, really good player, but not world class.

    Zaha hopefully will become world class some day. So far I have REALLY liked what I’ve seen.


  5. I think he would make a decent signing for soton or Norwich as that is his realistic level, he is out of his depth at united , ask yourself would he get in any other top 6sides – you Already know the answer !

  6. good article and the key point for me (as you pointed out) was he was played in the key matches when available.
    This speaks volumes. Every team needs ‘ water carriers ´ even in some of the conventional flair positions especially as you consider that the wingbacks are the source of much of the creativity these days.

  7. young is one of my favourite player in man united squad, its tru he is predictable at times… I jux hope he stays fit dix season he is gonna get better. Wit him on d left nd zaha on the right… 4 smalling nd welbeck both ar bunch of craps…

  8. A waste of space and 16 million, without putting a gloss on last season, last seasons team was poor and it was Fergie who won the title with a pathetic squad. If you look at utds performances the midfield was overan and they were unable to exert authority even against small teams such. Carrick is another one whom the English media for some reason champion lets be honest he wouldn’t feature in any other big team. Sentiment of wellbeck to be of a similar stature is also agreed along with Cleverly whose true colors really shows against Madrid where he was quite clearly. Out of his depth. What’s astounding is the rumours of Rooney going, nani to be sold as well as Anderson which leaves behind one Van Persie in terms of sheer quality. Now many would deem nani to be far too inconsistent yet such a player requires a run of games which he has not been given since that great season he had. Even Fergie is held in great esteem one cannot discount his devolution of the utd way in recent years to one that became a boring lethargic unimaginative team. A great example of this would be not to have played the prodigy Pogba even though he was already better than cleverly, park this has been shown at juventus. The waste of 16 million on ashley young when you had the young ravel Morrison whom had more ability.

  9. @Amar – Morrison was let go because of his off pitch antics… I wouldn’t get too caught up on the fee paid for Young but most of your rant isn’t about him!

  10. AY has not shown he can do it at United. A winger who can not beat his man, who can’t cross, and who instead of initiating an attack constantly pass the ball back to his defenders. Pls say me some space. This guy is a small club player.

  11. For whoever doubts Young is the fourth highest paid player. Google it. He’s on more than most of the other players who have done a lot more than he has. It was said at the time we signed him he was tp earn 120k a week because apparently 16 million was cheep

  12. His off pitch antics were rather ‘crazy’ but he exhibited a lot more prowess and technical ability than Young. Young is an average player at best who only has a right foot much like his counterpart on the right Valencia. Neither are utd level. My main point is how utd have gone backwards and how Fergie in the latter part of his management actually moved away from the’utd way’ the very way he so championed and young is a perfect example of this.

  13. Just saw his dive for the penalty yesterday, and agree he’s completely average. Time to sell him, not a Utd player.

  14. According to google he’s our highest paid winger, and one of the highest earners in the team. This doesn’t really go well with the fact that he really is average, and can do the simple job of letting the others play. Robert Snodgrass could do just that for the 10th of Young’s wages (I’M NOT SUGGESTING WE SIGN HIM).

    Young wasn’t signed for this. He is simply a huge disappointment, who is at least good for *something*. He IS good for something, and does help the team, but it’s really sad, that we need a winger, for not messing up…

    The few million we could get for him and the Ł 6.24M every year we spend on his wages (according to google) could go a long way in this crucial transfer window.

    Personally, I think we should let him go along with Nani, and move heaven and earth to get Bale, but I know that won’t happen, yet i still like FM.

  15. AshleyBloodyYoung is un-sellable – even for free. His ridiculous contract insures that MUFC will be cutting him weekly-cheques for 120,000 quid for another three seasons.

    Whether he’s good enough is, to all-intents-and-purposes, beside the point. And, he’s NOT good enough. Basically, he’s literally a waste-of-space.

    Young might not create the waves that TheWayneBoy does but his ridiculous contract is bound to create jealousy and animosity among other players – like Nani and Valencia – who have produced-the-goods but get paid about 50,000 a week less. Those guys aren’t “saints”, they can’t avoid the comparison between Young’s weekly pay-cheque and theirs.

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