The decision to keep Ashley Young on the pitch for the full 90 minutes at St James' Park last night proved a masterstroke from Manchester United chief Louis van Gaal as the wide-man netted in the late stages to secure three crucial points for his side.
On the hour mark, as the Red Devils struggled to break down John Carver's plucky side, the Red Devils boss replaced club record signing Angel di Maria with talented Belgian ace Adnan Januzaj. It was a show of faith in Young.
Unlike Di Maria's performance on home soil against Sunderland this past weekend, the former Real Madrid man was showing signs of class, but Van Gaal opted to remove him from the field, leaving Young and Januzaj as his two wingers.
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And Van Gaal was repaid in style. Some, of course, will point to Newcastle shot-stopper Tim Krul for making a huge error to hand Young the opportunity to slot home from 10 yards, but the Manchester United star actually deserves a great deal of credit for the strike.
At the end of the day, Young showed enough intelligence to spot the danger and to place himself inside the opposing box. The finish wasn't as easy as it appeared too: under pressure, the ex-Villa man kept a cool head to slide the ball into the bottom corner. His celebration said it all; it was a huge goal for himself and his side.
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Proving his credentials
At 29-years of age, Young is now one of the most experienced players at Old Trafford, and he is showing signs of great maturity. He's a disciplined figure under Van Gaal; he's ready to do anything for his side.
Having starred at wing-back and out-wide, his versatility has helped him thrive under Van Gaal. In fact - when fit - he has been excellent all season long.
Van Gaal his come in for criticism this term, but he has certainly got things right with Young. But the next few months will prove whether Young has been fully rejuvenated under the Dutchman.
With just one goal and one assist this term, Young, who earns a reported £115,000-a-week to play his football at the Theatre of Dreams, must now kick on and prove that he's good enough to feature week in, week out.
Of course, now the player's being handed a role in the attacking half of the pitch, he will be expecting to improve on those statistics before the end of the campaign - and he certainly has the ability to do just that.
FA Cup showdown
Next up for United is a home clash with Arsenal in the FA Cup quarter-finals. No doubt, Young will have great memories of playing against the north London outfit on home soil. The Old Trafford faithful will certainly remember the player's marvellous brace against Arsene Wenger's during their astonishing 8-2 demolition in 2011.
Young will surely get the nod once again on Monday night, and he should head into the game more confident than ever.
Manchester United fans: Do you agree? Does Young deserve credit for his fine season under Van Gaal? Have your say in the comments section below!
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