Ashley Young’s revitalised career under Jose Mourinho

When Ashley Young arrived at Manchester United in the summer of 2011, United were still desperately trying to replace Cristiano Ronaldo, who made the switch to Real Madrid two years previous. Young wasn’t bought as a ready-made replacement for the Portuguese superstar but with his pace and excellent crossing, he was seen as a player who could definitely bring a bit of sparkle to the United wing.

The former Watford and Aston Villa player had a mixed start to his career at United, suffering from long-term injuries that really stunted his development and cost him valuable playing time. His playing time was limited under Sir Alex Ferguson and David Moyes, but when Louis van Gaal was appointed in the summer of 2014 a new position was born for Young and he spent most of that season playing wing-back as an instrumental part in Van Gaal’s first year in charge.

When Jose Mourinho was appointed in 2016, Young’s game time became limited, and the appearances he did make were usually as a substitute or in the EFL Cup. However, as left back was a position yet to be claimed, Mourinho started to use Young more regularly as a wing-back, and he hasn’t looked back since. The manager told Manchester Evening News back in November;

“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.”

This season Young has started all but eight of United’s League games and had a starring role in the Reds 4-2 at his old club Watford back in November, scoring 2 goals including a well-taken free-kick.

It’s not just his talents going forward that have impressed, he has also been instrumental in United keeping the most clean sheets this season with 14, and his experience and understanding have been a major part in that.

His form for United has even caught the eye of Gareth Southgate and the 32-year-old made his long-awaited return to international football against Brazil back in November. He is even being tipped for a place in the squad for the World Cup in Russia this summer.

Even though his contract runs out in the summer, his form for both club and country this season has surely earned him the right to a new deal, which will probably see him finish his career at Old Trafford.

Young even had the opportunity this time last year to leave Manchester to take on a new challenge in the money haven that is the Chinese Premier League. He was offered a staggering £10 million a year to join Shandong Luneng but decided to stay and fight for his place in the United squad. He told the Telegraph, in an interview back in October;

“I think there did come a point last season where I wasn’t in the squad, wasn’t even making the 18. It was disappointing but I never thought about leaving the club.”

Young has definitely seen an upturn in his career this season and it is something that can only be seen as beneficial to United, with his standout performances. His form has seemingly created a headache for Mourinho with Luke Shaw also performing well, but that can only be seen as a good thing for both club and country.

Written by Dan Pearce

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