A change in manager signifies a massive change for a football club and the direction it will take. The same holds true for its players. A manager usually imprints his personality and philosophy on the club and automatically prefers players who can execute his plans and methods.
Ashley Young rose to prominence courtesy of his good performances at Aston Villa under manager Martin O'Neill. Manchester United had to fight off stiff competition from Liverpool to secure Young's signature.
Sir Alex Ferguson believed in never paying over the odds for a player, but he made an exception in this case, reportedly shelling out £20 million to get his man. Sir Alex, who noted in his autobiography that Young was signed as a replacement for Ryan Giggs, ensured that his new recruit featured significantly. This changed under David Moyes’ helm at Old Trafford with Young making just 8 starts the entire season.
Injuries have stunted progress
A significant portion of Young’s tenure has been spent on the treatment table. To date, he has never started 10 consecutive matches for Manchester United. After featuring heavily in his first season at Old Trafford, Young dropped off the radar due to injury. The image of Young on the podium celebrating Manchester United’s last premier league title win on crutches is symbolic of his time at the club.
The arrival of Louis Van Gaal and a change in system saw Young make the first team on a more regular basis. While Young’s attacking play was never under question, it has been the defensive side of the game which has been significantly noticeable this season. At times during the season when United played with three at the back, Ashley Young displayed a fantastic work rate while playing as the left wing back.
Young has bought into Van Gaal's philosophy
His performances in the position have been praised by his manager and fans alike. A particular matter of pride for Young is his creation of 20 chances in 17 league appearances. He scored an all-important late winner against Newcastle United providing United with 3 vital points in the scramble for top 4
The competition that Ashley Young faces for his position is very stiff. United have the extremely talented Angel Di Maria and youth prodigy Adnan Januzaj vying for the same spot. The fact that Young has managed to fight off them off and become first choice for the manager speaks volumes about his desire. Out of his 18 appearances this season, 15 have been starts as opposed to the previous season’s 8.
Despite impressive performances and being in the best of form, he was overlooked for Roy Hodgson’s England squad for the friendlies in March. With improving performances each time he plays, a national recall is not far away for Ashley Young.