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Ashley Young: More than the dressing room DJ; Manchester United’s Mr. Dependable

It seems like since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, Ashley Young has been one of the constants in the Manchester United squad whether he’s in the team or not. In some of the frustrating seasons since United’s last title win in the 2012/13 season, you are hard pushed to find many players who have been as willing and dependable as Ashley Young.

I think if you would have asked many United fans what their thoughts on Young were by the end of Ferguson’s reign at the club, they would have probably uttered phrases like, good to have around the dressing room or good squad player. There is no doubt that the fans would be right to an extent, he is a very popular member of the squad who has a big influence in the changing room, to the point where he has taken over the role of the dressing room DJ from Patrice Evra.

However many of the squad and the evidence on the pitch will tell you there is more to Ashley Young than just being a big personality within a group and his DJ’ing skills. His adaptability and work ethic have seen him become United’s Mr. Dependable over the last four seasons. Sir Alex Ferguson signed Ashley Young in 2010 because the form he showed during his time at Watford and Aston Villa meant that he was one of the best wingers in the English game.

It would be fair to say as a winger Young has had intermittent success at the club though. You could say as a result of Young not hitting the heights as a winger at the club Manchester United have since spent big on players they hoped could be a creative influence in wide areas. Large fees have been paid for the likes of Angel Di Maria, Memphis Depay, Anthony Martial and Alexis Sanchez. These signings have not forced Young through the exit door as many people would have thought.

In fact, this has only served to rejuvenate his career as he has been forced to reinvent himself as a left back in order to get regular first team football at Old Trafford. This reinvention of Young as a left-back came about due to an injury crisis under former manager Louis van Gaal, at which time the Dutch manager believed Young had the right attributes to play as a left wing-back in his 3-4-3 formation.

After putting in some very good performances in his first few games, as a left wing-back under Van Gaal, Young has never looked back and in the two seasons under Jose Mourinho, he has made that position his own. Mourinho trusts Young more than any of his other left-back options and in the big games, he never hesitates to give him the nod in the team. Mourinho once said:

“I know what he can do for us, all the positions where he can be useful for us but this left-back position I think has adapted to him and probably in this stage of his career where he has the maturity and the tactical experience. It’s good, so he’s playing really well.” 

United’s first choice left-back has been so impressive he has even become the vital part of England’s successful FIFA World Cup squad. With the experience he has now at the age of 32, alongside the way he has mastered his new position, Young has become a player even England manager Gareth Southgate depends on to fill the left-back void for the national side.

Written by Joe Smith

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