Published on January 17th, 2013 | by soccersweep1
Manchester United: Young Rapidly Becoming Old Hat
A Manchester United fan’s view from Duncan K.
There are many Manchester United fans, your correspondent included, who, while not wishing Ashley Young any long-term damage, would be fairly relieved were he to pick up a series of niggling little injuries that restricted his first team opportunities from this point forth. The suggestion that he could miss a run of games after a knock versus Liverpool last weekend did briefly raise this possibility. That he has been mooted to return this weekend at Spurs is a worry.
That may sound uncharitable but the greater good has to come first and, harsh as it sounds, the team would benefit from his absence. It is becoming clearer by the week that Young simply is not cutting it at Old Trafford. Some players have the wherewithal and character to succeed at Manchester United but Young does not and is wilting. Hernandez on the other hand is a player who does possess the required qualities and is absolutely flourishing.
A case in point with Young came in that clash with Liverpool. United win an early corner, an excellent chance to start on the front foot in a white hot, super-charged game, get the crowd baying and add to the pressure on the hapless Scousers. Young trots over, not too urgently as is his wont, sets the ball and then shanks it straight into the first defender. Terrible delivery. The ball bounces 10-15 yards short of the desired area and Liverpool easily clear it. It is just not good enough and a maddening waste. But this by now is a familiar outcome with Young’s contributions. He is so often not switched on, that second or two off the tempo, a thought behind his teammates, wayward with his passes and guilty of poor decisions.
Now this may be controversial but there is a good case to be made for Young being Ferguson’s worst ever signing, given the fee paid, his inability to put in any kind of run of form or even look close to being a Manchester United player for the majority of his time at the club. This view sparked a lively email debate amongst my United-supporting friends and family when I proposed it recently.
Of the previous well below-par players that were bandied about in feverish response, Ralph Milne was indeed low in ability but such was his endeavour that he ended up a terrace cult figure, an anti-hero ! Young in contrast rarely seems to be busting a gut to make up for a poor game.
Eric Djemba-Djemba was just crap, everyone knows that, but he was 4.5 Million and you can hold your hand up at that price and move him on. Young however was a whopping 16 Million.
Continuing the theme, Cantona’s mate William Prunier was clearly out of his depth but lasted only four games. Young has now pulled on the red shirt to very little effect on just shy of fifty occasions. The stick always used to beat Ferguson with is, of course, Seba Veron. But he won a Premier League title and produced some excellent performances in Europe, and there was no question of a lack of ability. Unfortunately with Young you have to question even that.
Another significant factor for Young not being in the team are the chances of prolonged involvement that would then be handed to others. Most notably and at the top of the list is Antonio Valencia. To get him back and on form would be a massive bonus. Last season he was winning games almost on his own and is potentially a key player this time around too. He has not been on form of late but the only way he will get back on form is to play. Everyone knows the old adage about form and class and without doubt Valencia is class.
Nani is returning now too and at a great time of the season to make an impact on the chase for trophies. A player with oodles of talent and a killer cross, he will also need game time. In fact, it speaks volumes that an erratic Nani is preferable over Young, as just the possibility of a mentally right and on form Nani is a better bet right now.
What of Young’s United future then ? Well, it may be a case of him warming the bench for the rest of the season if fit and Ferguson then taking the big decision of shipping him out in the summer. He looks like a player who has been found out at the very top level and is feeling the pressure of being at a top club. It is also becoming clear that he has not got what it takes to haul himself up there. Therefore an enforced absence and time to take stock may be the ideal solution for both club and player.
Duncan Kaiser writes for soccersweep