Why Has Sir Alex Looked Towards Ashley Young?

There is a certain amount of MUFC ‘fans’ worldwide who are only interested in the stellar signings that are on offer in world football. Any player that doesn’t fall into this category gets given the dubious tag of “Not United quality”….When Valencia came from Wigan you heard this catchphrase quite alot. Yet 24 months later he is a hero to those very same fans

The long-term MUFC supporter I think has a much more balanced view on squad acquisitions. As very nice as it would be to nab a Sanchez or a Sneijder we understand that there are cost implications to be considered…and that means that the very marquee player names are off our radar. We don’t do bidding wars and that’s why despite agreeing terms in principle for a player like Sanchez, that selling clubs will always encourage a Christies style auction attended by the billionaires of Russia and Arabia..and we will be gazumped!

Which leaves us with the wide canyon of excellent footballers who sit below this uber player status. Ones who can improve your squad, without destroying your wage structure. The ones who have the potential to sell alot of shirts (see how many Chicharito 14s now grace Old Trafford) rather than have the divine right to sell Beckham quantities. The sort of player that can give you a bit more of the killer edge without posing you with the Veron style problem of the pressure to perform little miracles.

Ashley Young is that type of player.

At 25 he is the perfect age in my eyes. Still young. Still able to be moulded. But ultimately not a kid that’s gonna need years to settle. As people know I don’t bombard my readers with a dossier of facts and figures…but it doesn’t mean I don’t take a gander myself. With 50 club goals in around 250 appearances, the lad has an excellent strike rate (Well on par with Nani’s ratio) I like the fact that he’s also had good grounding from the Championship with Watford and has been very much a regular for Villa for half a decade…and that he’s had Martin O’Neill’s influence on him since a young age. He’s the type of player who is now ready to make the next step…just like Valencia was…and MUFC is tailor made for him as much as he is for us. His 2009 PFA Young Player of the Year award shows that his fellow pros rate the boy.

The problems this year for many of The Faithful, when looking at United weaknesses the past few seasons, has been the central midfield area. But I’m not so sure that Sir Alex shares the same view. I’d love nothing more than a Modric to pop up at our club, but wouldn’t be surprised to see Fergie leave it just one more year so he can oversee the potential of Tom Cleverley and maybe even begin the gradual integration of Tunnicliffe and Pogba. This means he may focus on other positions to strengthen. If Wes Brown departs it would be no surprise if the Manager looks at a replacement. However there is one position that goes under the radar when discussing United’s weaknesses:

And that’s the left wing

Now yes yes…i know! Nani plays left wing. Especially when Valencia is in top form. But no one can hide the simple fact. Nani is not a great left winger. Two footed he may be. But you would have to be blind not to see the difference in his form since he switched from the right where he played pre-Valencia injury. On the left he is ineffective for long periods of the game and has tactical problems. Whereas on the right he is much more dangerous and ultimately decisive. Looking at other left wing options…Giggs is no longer the flying wide man. Park, though employed left sided, is hardly your classic touchline winger. And Gabby Obertan…..no comment. This leaves us with a bit of a hole that may not be obvious to many on first glance. And this is where Young comes in.

Personally I think Young would be a revelation at United. He would thrive with a Rooney next to him on the inside rather than an Agbonlahor. And as we finally have a striker like Chico who can run that channel, Young would have that target man to link towards. It’s an exciting prospect I think, and also adds competition to Tony V and Nani who both shouldn’t just be automatic picks…strength in depth (I’m stealing that back from Alan Hansen!) is what has made MUFC great over the last twenty years and why we won the league this year. You can’t also look past the fact that a set piece specialist would be welcomed at Old Trafford. Our tendency to work the short corner rather than plonk the ball onto Vidic’s magnificent head sort of says it all. The lad has a great delivery and that is never something to be sniffed at. And he is by far and away a better player than all this “He’s merely average” that many of the Twitterverse proclaim.

Oh….and he scores goals!

Young will never be the sort of signing that will get the global fanbase’s collective heart pumping hard. But there has to be a realisation on what our club is built on. At around the £15 million and with only a year on his Villa deal, Young is prime fodder for us. He will do a job for us. He will get double figures for goals and assists in the Premier League every year. And he may just turn into a top class international footballer. I know many are craving that Ronaldo style messiah to worship since the mighty one packed his bag for the culture of Madrid, but United have shown this year that we can do it with more than just ‘The Power of One’.

We are the ‘Power of Many’….Park, Valencia, Fletcher, Carrick, The DaSilvas, Smalling, Evans, Gibson…even dear little Mickey O. The squad reigns supreme. We don’t have a Fabregas. We don’t have a Torres. And the fact remains….we don’t need one! Young would make us collectively stronger than we currently are…and that is all that matters.

Read more of Rob B at ViewFromTier3 – his MUFC blogzine
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About Steve Ferguson 886 Articles
Steve Ferguson had taken over & re-branded The Faithful MUFC website back in the summer of 2014 and is now the owner and editor of the site. Steve, from Ashton-Under-Lyne in Greater Manchester, is a 35-year-old life long Manchester United fan, travelling over the globe to see the Reds play. Steve has been lucky enough to be at both the 1999 and 2008 Champions League finals, seeing Manchester United lift the biggest trophy in the World, none more exciting than that faithful night in Barcelona in 99. The website is a blog, but also hopes to deliver the latest Manchester United news from around the internet too, linked up with our growing twitter account which is @TheFaithfulMUFC, give it a follow as we will follow you back as soon as we can.


  1. Valencia was and is a better player than Young is and will be. Always defended the purchase of him but find it more difficult with Young. I would even say that £15M with one year left on his contract is an overprice. And its naive to think he will get double figures in both goals and assists every season.

  2. Bull’s eye!you drove the point home and I agree with you 101%.the likes of Pogba n cleverly might influence The Gaffer to delay at least for one more year or two before buying a central midfielder.Ashley young certainly ticks all the boxes and he is a dead ball specialist which we currently don’t have.

  3. If you can get him back playing as he did prior to the last two seasons then he will be a fantastic player for you but he has been slightly better than average the last two years. Maybe he has stagnated and tbf to him we have been poor virtually all season but as a Villa fan I would snap your hand off for £15m plus.

  4. Fantastic article, i was one of those fans who craved like you said ‘stellar signings’, for me the trinity of players needed were de’gale, Sanchez or and Sneijder, to compete with Chelsea, Man City and Barcelona, i still think so but i do see your point about Ashley Young and the reality is we cannot afford both Sanchez and Sneijder , everything you said about Ashley Young is true but i don’t think Nani will still be part of the squad and will be sold, i don’t agree about midfield, Pogba is a defensive midfielder, Ravel Morrison is perhaps more fitting but we need a top quality attacking midfielder and Sneijder fits this mold, so Young and Sneijder, i can live with even if this means Man City gets Sanchez.

  5. Please no for god sake. His attitude and mentality is not what is required of a united player and he is not better than what we have, therefore would not improve the squad. Its a better deal to either a) add another ten million and get some real quality ala sanchez or hazard. Both much better players in mentality and ability.
    Or b) give cleverly and wellbeck a chance to make the breakthrough wide left.
    In Lord fergie we trust.

  6. Not sure what you mean by Hazard as having the right mentality. In Belgium he’s infamous for the exact opposite. He is known for being lazy and lacking commitment in training. Now, maybe he only appears to be that way and he really has the right mentality like his coach at Lille likes to claim. But he’s not included in the Belgium national team for that exact reason. His low work rate during matches and his attitude on training…
    Yet he is still one of the hottest young prospects in Europe.

  7. Please. We don’t need a Fabregas? The midfield is in dire need of an overhaul, especially with Scholes showing signs of of Father Time finally catching up to him, and Giggs only good for every second game at this stage of his career. Fletcher and Carrick are not world class, merely workmanlike and efficient, so what’s left? Anderson? He is certainly starting to show signs of turning into the kind of footballer we had always hoped to see, especially now that Fergie has belatedly allowed him a freer role in attack, but we need greater consistency from the Brazilian if he is to establish himself as a first team regular. Cleverly, Pogba, etc have the potential to be something special, but potential is not what United need at the moment in the engine room. They need proven quality, the kind of players to match the world class talent bookending the midfield area. Not since the salad days of the Scholes/Keane partnership could United claim to have had an engine room to be feared – teams like Barcelona are so dominant in the area that United are invariably reduced to conceding the bulk of possession and trying to survive via quick counter attacks or forays down the wings, away from the midfield.

  8. Great article. It’s about time someone realised that Young is perfect for us. When he came on for England in the friendly a while back and stole the show, I knew he could really do a job at United. He is such a consistent player and would thrive among both Rooney and Hernandez up front. Even Berba if he stays and plays. Would be a great signing for a reasonable price.

  9. I’m sorry Jamie but you are so wrong about Ashley Young if you think he is consistant. I have been a season ticket holder at VP in all the time Young has been with us and he is far from consistant. He hasn’t even been our best player over the last two season.

    Someone earlier posted he is a deadball specialist. It would be interesting to see the goals-to-set-piece taken ratio because he takes virtually every set-piece at Villa and his delivery has been far from excellent. He may score the odd free-kick and provide the odd ball for a goal.

    As I stated earlier £15m+ for a player with one year left on his contract would be fantastic business for Villa.

  10. Absolutely agree – very good article. I was at first worried about the link with Young, but after examination whole heartedly agree that Manchester United would be improved by that type of player. He is quick, able to get round defenders, deliver great crosses and can play on that left hand side.

    It isn’t always about the big names and big money transfers, it’s about the collective team, and players who can work well with each-other, and like you say, I can see Young having a very good on field relationship with Rooney & Hernandez, much like Valencia enjoys.

    Also agree about the central midfield part. Would love a big name to come in (I would love Modric) but I am also very, very excited by the prospect of Pogba and Cleverly as well as the other youngsters. The future is very, bright for Manchester United in my opinion. We have some fantastic young players who have a wonderful example to look up to in most of the current squad members.
    Cannot wait until next season.

  11. I don’t think that it even comes down to whether or not Ashley Young is United quality, when you look across the current team. United have Nani and Valencia who fall into the same age category as Ashley Young and as we know Fergie likes to have 3 or 4 tiers of different ages for different positions. I do not think you will see Ashley Young in a Manchester United shirt next season.

  12. Nice to read a well thought out, accurate and interesting piece. Been a United fan for over 20 years..I agree with your point – Young at that price would suit the team well. He scores, has the room for improvement, is Prem League experienced and will only get better with the class of United squad. Thanks – good post!

  13. I like this article a lot. It’s very balanced and rational. Many of us, myself included, need timely reminders of the value of being sensible in the transfer market. I have failed to get excited by the prospect of Ashley Young in a red shirt but when brought back to earth and seen it put in these terms, I realise that I have every reason to be. He certainly represents nothing like a gamble. He is premiership proven, brings dead ball quality (which we sorely lack) and is very reasonably priced.

    A further virtue is his nationality. United have a terrific tradition of keeping a core of british players, something which I think has been vital to the cohesion of the squad and it’s subsequent success. A transfer fee of around 15M could be easily offset in part by the depature of some of the fringe players. Obertan and Gibson for example are much better players than many United fans give them credit for, however they are unlikely to have the quality to truly flourish at a club of this size.

    The Valencia example is one which I think suits this situation perfectly. If anything Young has a better reputation than Valencia did at that stage. United have always been very shrewd operators in the transfer market have have perfected the art of squad building more than any other club side. Many of our players are unheralded by the mainstream media and indeed by our own fans but 1 through 25, the squad is just consistently quality. It’s a dynamic which has largely seen the idea of a first XI look antiquated.

  14. This is a preposterous comment. How is a midfield that is in “dire need of an overhaul” league champions and in the final of the champions league? Carrick has proven himself time and time again to be one of the best possession retention mdifielders in world football. Unfortunately some fans keep jumping on the ABU bandwagon and spouting the same nonsense about him not being good enough despite the fact he will have been in the starting XI for 3 champions league finals in 4 years. You don’t do that if you are “workmanlike and efficient”. Carrick deserves to considered as one of the best midfielders is United’s long illustrious history. We will sorely miss him when he has gone.

    You cannot compare any team in the world to Barcelona when it comes to possesssion football. That is a team that has been forged over 20 years, with many of their players gorwing up together player the same triangles over and over again. Even Real Madrid, who have spent uber millions on so called “world class talent”, did exactly what you described and conceded possession to Barca.

    You say United need “proven quality”, is not getting to 3 Champions League finals in 4 years enough proof of quality. How about 4 league titles in 5 years and runner up by 1 point in the other year? What more do you want?

    Ridiculous post.

  15. I must admit you have pulled me to your ship. You know I am obsessed with Sanchez and Sneijder and I always feel these two would greatly strengthen our squad. Now based on your analysis I seem to be convinced that may be we also need a replacement for Owen Hag to protect the defence. This would allow Rooney to roam behind Chico and infront of the defensive midfielder hence terrorizing the opposition at will. This would ultimately enable Chico to do what he does best – score goals from any where with any part of his body.

  16. Nice article mate. I agree that he will be a great signing. He can play on both wings and also as a supporting striker, has a decent goals + assists average, can take free kicks etc. As you say the Valencia signing was criticised by many United fans and now look at him, one of world’s best wingers. I still hope we sign a centre mid like Rodwell, a player with huge potential that we wouldn’t have to break the bank for.

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