After a cracking start to his Manchester United career, culminating in a career-zenith stand-out performance against Arsenal, things soon began to fizzle out for ex-Aston Villa boy Ashley Young. Injuries and inconsistencies crept into his game and fans begun to get more and more critical. Questions began to be asked as to whether he was Manchester United quality. Hopefully his all-action performance against Tottenham on Sunday will have put that question to bed.
Young has bountiful talent. On his day he can get the better of any full-back and he genuinely has the potential to go on and become a Man United and England great. But for now it remains a vague possibility – the inconsistencies that plague his game threaten to put a promising career on hold.
His assist for Wayne Rooney’s equaliser was pin-point. His two finishes were both sublime. He hit his first at a near 45 degree angle from the ground and managed to guide it through a sea of bodies into Friedel’s net. The second was a long-range stunner that called to mind his wonder-goal against Arsenal at the start of the season. It’s not that we as fans expect this every week, it’s just that we expect more than what he has offered – which is little more than nothing.
He has proven his quality, so why can’t he perform on a weekly basis?
After his performance at the weekend and considering Nani’s lack of form, I think Young merits a run of games in the first team. It’s worth considering that this is his first real run of games since his injury and that regular football is clearly having some positive effect. Who knows just how good Young will end up if he continues to improve at a steady rate?
There are still areas of his game that he needs to work on. In particular he needs to figure out how to beat his man. When out on the flanks, taking on a full-back he can sometimes freeze up and end up losing the ball. If he learns how to beat his man and fire in a deadly cross (just like the Nani of last season) then he will become a real asset for Manchester United.
It may be a little unfair to judge Young on the basis of his first season with a new club, but all English players are under heavy scrutiny at this moment. This combined with a large price-tag meant that Young was always going to be placed under the spotlight. The truth is, however, at the moment he just needs time.
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