It has been a long, frustrating, enduring and exciting season for Manchester United supporters. Players have not been at their best as Louis van Gaal looks to turn this United side back into a title-winning team. There have been many players that have sparked debate this season, one being Ashley Young. When he was first signed back in the summer of 2011, he showed promise in his debut season. He scored important goals and gave match winning performances against the likes of Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. Since then though, he hasn’t really returned to the level we originally saw that season and consistently at Aston Villa.
In the last couple of seasons he has struggled to find form and has been nowhere near the level he should be at. However, this year we have seen elements of his old form particularly in the last few games. He gave one of his best performances that has been seen in a long while against Manchester City, leading onto a vital performance against Crystal Palace which saw United cement UEFA Champions League qualification. He has been rejuvenated under Van Gaal and won the Player of the Month award for May, which displays encouraging signs going into next season. Speaking to the official Manchester United website, Young said:
“From pre-season the manager came in and talked about his philosophy and what he wanted to get out of it, the little details in training and just bringing the club on in the way he saw it and how he wanted things to go; it’s been fantastic.
“The manager has called upon me whether it’s been left-wing-back, left-wing or left-back and I’ve gone out there and given 110 per cent as I always do and I’ve enjoyed the season. As I say, as a footballer you want to be playing regularly and I’ve been able to do that this season.
“I’ve enjoyed it, I’ve really enjoyed playing football again. I’ve kicked on and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”
The question that is in all of our minds is; can he become the player, once again, we originally signed and perform consistently next season? There will be a lot of competition for places with new players coming in and the likes of Angel Di Maria and Memphis Depay looking to get a starting spot. Maybe this could give Young the drive that he needs to become a stand out player. Manchester United have lacked a consistent, penetrating winger since Cristiano Ronaldo left the club and with Depay arriving and Di Maria looking to improve his performances next season.
Ashley Young will need to keep producing those stand out moments that we have seen flickers of to guarantee starts next season. He has clearly been enjoying his football recently and Van Gaal has given him a new lease of life. With a run of games injury free, and the squad looking to be balanced in the summer, the 29-year-old could gain momentum from added confidence, which may see him become the player he once was. If Van Gaal continues to nurture his ability then only time will tell as to whether he can become the player we hoped for.
This article was researched and written by Matt Coley. You can follow him on Twitter.