Moyes has a key decision to make on Young’s future

Ashley Young

Despite being ultimately responsible for Manchester United’s fortunes David Moyes has been protected by fans to date; the argument being that the new manager has been proffered too little time to impose his own philosophy on the club. Fair enough, although there have been victims during the Scot’s early period at the club, including Ashley Young who is now considered the main culprit of United’s poor start. It has brought into question the winger’s future at the club.

The staggering rise of Adnan Januzaj has certainly not helped the former Aston Villa player’s position, although there are few, if any, United players who are playing to their potential.

Last season’s 20th league trophy epitomised Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign at Old Trafford – a decent squad went on to better more glamorous sides with little else but determination. In that three senior wingers – Antonio Valencia, Nani and Young – were collectively underwhelming, but England international was the best of the bunch.

Young boasted better shot accuracy and had more attempts at scoring than Nani and Valencia. The English winger created more chances per game as well. He also performed solidly in games against big sides when the Ecuadorian failed to impress and the Portuguese was not in the side at all. The fact that Young, who failed to score in 19 Premier League games, recorded better statistics than other senior wingers speaks to the genius of the retired United manager.

Young’s début season offered promise. Injuries limited the former Watford player to just 19 Premier League games, but he scored six goals and notched up seven assists. Prior to United’s 6-1 defeat to Manchester City, the Reds often deployed a swashbuckling 4-6-0 system where the front four of Young, Danny Welbeck, Wayne Rooney and Nani roamed at will, with Anderson and Tom Cleverley supporting the front players with almost reckless runs into attacking midfield positions.

This season Moyes’ team is playing with more structure. Robin Van Persie and Rooney are deployed as a traditional strike partnership and the central midfield duo does not consistently support the forwards.

Dribbling has never been one of Young’s great strengths – last season the English forward attempted one take-on per game, while Valencia tried 2.9 times per fixture. United’s opposition successfully marshals Young down the left flank and forces the right footed forward away from areas where he can use his stronger foot.

However, Ferguson often used Young in big matches, where in counterattacking situations, there is more space for Young’s pace and his right foot to shine.

The England international suffered twice as many fouls as Nani or Valencia last season – one data points that suggests opponents found Young far more threatening than the latter two. Crucially Rooney’s presence in the middle took some attention away from the former Aston Villa winger.

In part Young’s future depends on how Moyes handles Rooney, with the Scouser making it abundantly clear he has no interest in playing in midfield. The English striker’s recent admission that he is “enjoying” playing up front is a clear threat to the new United manager – a demand to which Moyes has acquiesced. With there being no chance of the Scot dropping Rooney to play Shinji Kagawa, Young is unlikely to receive the more central attacking midfield support he needs to be effective.

With little hope for a more permanent role, Young’s transfer should be considered, although at 28 the former Villa player would need to be sold sooner than later. The trouble is with Young acquired for more than £17 million, with wages reportedly topping £130,000 per week, there are few that can afford the England international. Let alone a long line of club’s seeking his ‘talents’.

Still, if Arsenal can find room for the limited, if speedy, Theo Walcott then there is little reason why United can’t utilise a player of Young’s ilk. After all, Young is a highly versatile player who can play across attacking midfield. Perhaps Sir Alex Ferguson’s comparison of Young and John O’Shea is prophetic after all.

Meanwhile, there is little role for Young elsewhere in the team, especially since Kagawa can’t get a game at number 10, the other position at which the England man has been used.

It leads to a conclusion – if Young remains at Old Trafford the right flank beckons. Young is a more direct than Valencia and the Englishman’s tendency to quickly cross could aid United in maintaining a high tempo, especially in counter-attacking situations. The former Wigan Athletic player’s tendency to get close to the box is becoming problematic to Moyes’ preferred game.

The fact that Young needs to cut in is a great hindrance on the left. On the opposite flank, though, the fact that Young can operate centrally is a burden to bear for the opposition. The Englishman has contributed defensively just as much as the Ecuadorian and a run on the right should be considered. Nani is more technically sound, and a greater attacking threat, but a more defensively responsible player is needed for certain occasions.

The burgeoning Januzaj will, of course, limit Young’s opportunities, and in any case, the current system will not bring out the best from the former Aston Villa player. But Moyes is likely to appreciate having a such versatile player in the squad and an experimental deployment on the right is tempting with Nani and Valencia struggling to convince.

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Comments

  1. Mongoletsi says:

    Januzaj left, Nani right.

    Simples.

    Valencia and Zaha as backups. Welbeck too.

    Young can fuck off.

  2. The only key decision is the lowest price he’d let him leave for.

  3. Not much of a decision to make, apart from which championship club to sell him to.

  4. norry Kay says:

    You are clearly an Ashley Young fan boy. you are entitled to your opinions but after reading this piece I wonder if its Young or united you have at heart. Looks like its more of the former to me. I just don’t understand why you would want to see such an inept player in our line up. He and Valencia would not be starting at the likes of barca bayern madrid dortmund chelsea and even spurs. What then makes you think that Young should be playing here at united the biggest club in the world. A winger who passes backwards and sideways more than forwards. Even Evra and Rafael offer more penetration. Have the balls to call a spade what it is. He’s not united quality.

    • The_Philosopher says:

      Here here!!!

      Ashley Young needs to move on.

      He is taking up space.

      We have Zaha and Januzaj now who need game time.

      Young needs to go end his languishing career somewhere else.

  5. Young, Anderson, Welbeck should all leave. Give Zaha a chance. Sign Gundogan also tie Januzaj down to a long term deal. DM act fast

    • The_Philosopher says:

      You’re trusting in David Moyes to do all that?

      You must be an optimist.

    • I’d keep welbeck as he’s local and can improve.The others should be shipped off without a seconds hesitation……they couldnt get into any other top 5 club in England never mind the bayerns,barcas,juves and madrids……u can add valencia and cleverly to that list while ur at it….

  6. Denton Davey says:

    If AshleyBloodyYoung left on a free transfer – with UTD paying him for the remainder of his contract – accountants can turn a loss into a profit and I’d imagine that the Glazers have damned-good accountants.

  7. MICHAEL FIELD says:

    WHY ON EARTH ARE JANUJAZ ANS ZAHA NOT STARTING? THE REST OF THE LOT AREN’T WORTH A DAMN BASED ON THEIR PERFOMANCES THIS SEASON. C’MON, MAN – WE HAVE ALREADY PROVED YOU can WIN WITH BABES!

    • The_Philosopher says:

      Yes we have.

      David Moyes is the one who is standing in the way of that kind of progress.

      But maybe he has learnt something from the likes of AVB and his time at Chelsea that you can’t just walk in and start axing players left right and centre and expect the old guard to get behind you. . .

  8. Dayus D red says:

    Your assessment of Young is quite amazing. To start with United paid £14m and not £17m bcos he had only one yr left on his contract when we bought him. Attacking wise he has been the most ineffective of our wingers. I wonder ur source of statistic, but Young is the only winger in the league that plays with his back to the opposing side RB and makes more back passes to his LB than any other player. I was one of those clamouring for Young when he was at Villa, but i now realise he does not possess the mental ability and the confidence to play at a big club. So the decision is simple, let him go.

  9. Young should never have been bought in the first place. He was never good enough, even at Villa. It was just glazernomics given that he had one year left on his contract, and we could get him ‘cheap’.

    Needs to be sold (or at least never picked in the first 11!) although if your correct with the £130k a week, not going to be many takers…

  10. he needs to go its as simple as that

  11. Lars From Mars says:

    I’m so tired of United keeping players around when they are clearly not good enough or haven’t been pulling their weight. Young is just one example – ‘this is the year Anderson will show his class’ we are told every year. Are FAbio and Buttner good enough? Fletcher unfortunately won’t come back from his illness. I even wonder if we have overpaid again for an average player in Fellaini. And rewarding Nani with a 5-yr contract? For what? United need to start being a bit more cutthroat and sign class players while looking to being through top youth players like Januzaj.

    • i) Yes, but it’s much easier saying you want to get rid of players than actually doing it – they are on huge salaries here that other clubs can’t afford. It’s not just us, look at Adebayor, Santa Cruz, Torres and so on.
      ii) Buttner is not good enough. Fabio might be but he may have missed the boat by now. Rafa was aided by Neville’s retirement whereas Fabio has had to contend with the indefatigable Evra.
      iii) Yes, of course we’ve over-paid for him. Could have had Strootman for £10m less for a start.
      iv) Nani has a lot of talent, certainly in the top 5 at United, I think. Five years is a long time but is guarantees a reasonable transfer fee if Moyes decides against him in the future.

      • Should add that, in theory, getting rid of players should be easier in January than would normally be the case simply because of the looming World Cup, of course.

  12. This is absolute nonsense, enough with this supposed to be ‘the classic English winger’, can’t take on full backs, all dives

  13. Key decision is about Kagawa, best player of Bundesliga, ruined by Moyes

  14. ForeverRed says:

    The purchase of Young was one of Fergie’s more recent senior moments.. along with the treatment of Pogba & decision to ditch Morrison imo. Young = “versatility” -aka not good enough to hold down any one position – over talent. So yes, losing Young, along with Valencia and Anderson, would allow others a chance to shine (Zaha, Lingard, Powell etc).

    On a side note it’s a real shame watching the impact Morrison’s been having of late and thinking what might have been. He seems to have completely focused on the football. Like Januzaj, a breath of fresh air. I realize that he was apparently unmanageable in Manchester, but couldn’t we have sent him out on loan for a year or two before making a decision??

    • If you actually followed United, you’d know United had to get Morrison out of Manchester. For his own good. And now we are seeing the player he could be, otherwise he’d probably end up a crack dealer.

  15. Jesus, what a write up.

    You should consider writing a piece on OJ Simpson being innocent!

  16. The_Philosopher says:

    Jay Shon contrary to popular sentiment on here I think you make some decent points about Ashley Young.

    I think he could have done a decent job on the right.

    Certainly better than Valencia.

    But with Wilfred Zaha and Nani also vying for a place on the right we have no need of him.

    He has been surpassed by the wonderkid Januzaj and so therefore should have no more hope of playing on the left.

    Maybe if we were more desperate. But we have more than enough better players to do any job he could. Plus I really hate his pansy diving antics.

    The best thing for him is to be sold because his time is up.

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