Many Manchester United fans had long lost patience with England international Ashley Young. The winger's extreme inconsistency, distribution and decision-making in the final third, were contributing factors to the fans' dim perception of the player.
So when Louis van Gaal, looking to help the Red Devils from the ashes, was instated as the next United manager, punters were thinking easy money, when assuming a Young exit.
Remarkably though, Young has played an integral part of United's preseason tour. He has featured heavily in Van Gaal's 5-3-2 system, operating at both left and right wing back, with true effect.
His two goals against Real Madrid in the International Champions Cup, proved that he still has that attacking edge, and suggest that Van Gaal may be the man to get the best of a player who has always had more to give.
Another United player dismissed as collateral is the talented, but frustrating Wilfried Zaha. Frozen out under David Moyes, and used sparingly when loaned to Cardiff City (after a promising start), Zaha's United career is looking ominous to say the least.
Van Gaal however has thrown the youngster a lifeline. It's been made clear that if Zaha can adapt to a central position as one of the two strikers in the Dutchman's system, he could feature in the coming season.
Zaha's performances in a central position on the tour have established a new-sense of optimism surrounding the young player. If he can replicate the brilliant performances he regularly churned out for Crystal Palace, which ultimately inspired Sir Alex Ferguson's capture of the player, he could play a crucial role in Van Gaal's title hunt.
A 21-year-old with a real appetite for the game, Jesse Lingard seems to be improving all of the time. He seems strong mentally, and plays with experience far beyond his years.
Lingard has now proven his worth in two preseason tours, showcasing his ability and character to step up to the first team. A versatile attacking option, who can create chances starting, and coming off the bench, Lingard could secure a surprising amount of playing time this season.
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