Manchester United winger Ashley Young has revealed he’s felt the need to step up and become a leader in the current squad, following the departure of Nemanja Vidic amongst others.
The former Aston Villa man has admitted that the players had been forced to undergo a transition during Louis van Gaal’s maiden season at the club, and due to the exits of a raft of senior squad members were forced into quickly adapting to the change.
Following the disastrous United campaign of 2013/14 under David Moyes the likes of Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra called time on their Old Trafford careers for different reasons, and their collective experience was thus lost.
High-profile names were brought in - see Angel Di Maria, Radamel Falcao and Ander Herrera - but nothing can quite make up for the omission of years on the clock. As Young has insisted, this was enough to make sure all who remained in Manchester had to get used to things quickly.
"When you've got Vida [Nemanja Vidic], Rio [Ferdinand] and [Patrice] Evra leaving, individuals who were not only big characters but captains, people have to step up and take over that mantle," Young told his club's official website.
"It has definitely happened. You give out more advice and try to help the youngsters along but it's everybody's job really. Everybody chips in.
"We've got one captain but, when we're on the pitch, there are 11 captains and everyone wants to be pulling in the right direction and wanting to perform and do as we well as we can as a team.
"When you have got that on and off the pitch, it's great."
Young himself has been extremely impressive this season when it’s considered that half of Old Trafford probably wouldn’t have complained if he’d have been flogged for nothing last summer. The winger had, until this term, flattered to deceive at Old Trafford and as a result became a focal point for criticism from the stands.
Unlike those in a similar position however - namely Nani and Tom Cleverley - Young was given a last chance at redemption by Van Gaal, and by all accounts he’s seized it with both hands. The wing-back role he’s been deployed in by the Dutchman looks perfectly tailored to his skill-set and, although it’s not a given, he might well be kept on past the summer.
That being said despite Young’s claims of players at United growing in the absence of Vidic and co. there can be little doubt that they haven’t suffered for having a lack of experience at the back.
The trio of Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Jonny Evans, talented as they are, can’t be classed in the same bracket as those that left last summer, which is why such an emphasis has been placed on Van Gaal potentially bringing in Mats Hummels come the end of this season.
The German international confirmed last night on Twitter that he hadn’t agreed a move a few years ago with Sir Alex Ferguson - as had been claimed earlier on in the day - but that doesn’t mean he’ll totally oppose a move now.
If United can clinch Champions League football and Borussia Dortmund don’t his loyalty will be pushed to its limits. The Red Devils could certainly do with adding him to the fold.
United fans, do you agree with Young? Has there been a noticeable improvement in the leadership of the side? Reveal your thoughts on the subject in the comments box below.
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