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Why Ashley Young is still important to the success of Manchester United

Ashley Young is a player that Manchester United fans love to criticise. Many fans would like to see Ashley Young move on from the club to another side, which he was close to in the January window. However, Young is still a crucial member of United’s squad for various reasons. Foremost, Ashley Young is a dressing room leader. Although he is not a star in this United side, nor a regular member of their starting eleven, he is still one of the older members in the squad who is looked up to by young players such as Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard. Young has frequently been mentioned as the team DJ, and a jokester in the dressing room. The importance of having a player like this to keep morale in the squad high during tougher times cannot be understated.

Also, Young is still a Premier League champion. He has one the league in sides with Sir Alex, and as the squad turnover continues from the glory days of Sir Alex, there are not many players left who have been Premier League champions. This mentality of winning doesn’t change, and when United get back to challenging for the Premier League title, they will need players who have won it before to guide the younger players and make sure they finish strong, and don’t choke.

This has been a big problem with Tottenham Hotspur in recent seasons, and shows that there needs to be veteran leaders who have been there before to do more than just put the pressure on the champions. Now, following these off the pitch reasons, Young is still a very useful player when he makes the starting XI. Young has played a plethora of positions for United over the last few years, including left-back, right-back, left-wing, right-wing, left-wing back, and striker. More recently, Young has been used more as a fullback or wing back than an out-and-out winger. And when deployed there, despite being a terrific winger for many years, he has done a wonderful job.

He has not had the same turnaround as Antonio Valencia, who has turned from a winger into one of the top Premier League fullbacks, however he has still done a fantastic job when called upon. Young is a player who at this point in his United career is never going to consistently start for United. However, with United hoping to go far in multiple competitions, there are going to be injuries and fatigue to starters, and players like Young will be crucial.

Young can go weeks without playing first team football and still come in and do a job at whichever position he plays, a skill which not many modern-day players have. Before any United fan calls for Ashley Young to leave United, I challenge them to go back and watch some of his performances from last season. His work rate is terrific, meaning when playing fullback he has the ability to recover from mistakes with his pace and stamina. He offers more going forward than a traditional fullback as well, having been a wonderful winger at United for many years. And most importantly, no matter how long he is out of the side, he will always do a job when called upon.

Written by Andrew McGowan

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