Ashley Young of course has been the biggest name on Manchester United fans’ lips recently following the news that he’s signed for us. So I thought it would be good to hear from an Aston Villa fan to find out more about Young.
Ross Mackiewicz – @RossMackiewicz – an aspiring football writer & broadcaster seemed a good person to chat in-depth with about Young as he’s a regulary watched Aston Villa home and away for a number of years. Here’s what he had to say about our latest signing.
First things first, how much of a disappointment is it for Villa fans that Ashley Young is no longer part of your club.
After all he’s been an integral part of your squad for several years now, do you think £20million more than makes up for losing him?
Ashley Young has been a fantastic servant to Aston Villa the past four and half years and his contribution will be greatly missed. We felt the inevitability that he would seek pastures new as his contract began to expire.
Having watched him week in week out we have seen him make such a vast contribution to the team, much of our attacking emphasis entailed from his wing play.
The season before last he somewhat stagnated but this was largely down to the emergence of James Milner. Although we endured an indifferent season just gone, he and Stewart Downing were the standout players and have taken their game to a new level – particularly Ash.
He is worth every penny of what United have paid. It is never nice to lose one of your star assets but we are lucky in having a readymade replacement in Mar Albrighton.
There was the odd rumour a couple of months ago that Sir Alex Ferguson might have offered your club a couple of United’s youngsters in exchange with cash for Young.
Names such as Federico Macheda (who of course has scored 2 great goals against you in the last 2 years) and Danny Welbeck were mentioned as part of a deal then.
Do you think particularly with your lack of forwards at the club now those two would’ve been good options for you even with the talented Nathan Delfouenso waiting in the wings?
Macheda has hurt us a number of times the past few years. His wonder strike in the last minute at Old Trafford in 2009 sticks out, as well as his beauty of a goal last winter when we were 2-0 up at Villa Park but surrendered to another United comeback.
He would have been a welcomed addition as too Danny Wellbeck who played with Darren Bent at Sunderland. Their link-up play may have been a benefit to us if there was an opportunity to bring him in as Darren clicked straight away playing alongside him last season.
Looking back to when you first signed him from Watford back in January 2007, was it clear from very early on that you had a ‘special’ player on your hands or did Young’s progress under Martin O’Neil surprise you?
Well he scored on his debut at St James Park against Newcastle and immediately announced himself to the fans. He arrived with John Carew and initially started out as a supporting striker for the Norwegian.
It was the 2007/2008 season where he made the position on the left wing his own and particularly his display against Chelsea in 2-0 win at home demonstrated his undoubted talent.
The sum raised an eyebrow or two as he was still somewhat an unknown entity, but it did not take too long to realise it was a wonderful investment.
Young is following in the footsteps of another talented young English player in James Milner in moving from Villa to a club in Manchester.
Milner of course despite being part of Manchester City’s FA Cup win last season, never became a first choice at Eastlands last year and his England form suffered as a result.
Do you think there’s a chance that Young will suffer from the same problems that Milner has done?
I don’t, I actually think he’ll cement a place in the United team. With Antonio Valencia on the right and Young on the opposite side, it is a scary thought for opposition defences.
Both can bamboozle opposite full-backs and their deliveries are never fair off the mark. It will be a much stronger United with Ashley Young in the fore, you wait and see.
Since Young became a regular in the England squad, it was pretty evident that he wanted to move on this summer to further his career.
How did the fans react to this news throughout the season at home games as it appeared his relationship with them was good, will he get a good reception on his return to Villa Park?
He received a standing ovation when substituted in the last game of the season against Liverpool at Villa Park. We knew then that was a goodbye as in the four years that he’s been with us, he never gets substituted.
It was good management by Gary McAllister to allow him to wave to all four corners of the ground as the Holte-End bellowed his chant. We knew he was departing but we wish him all the best.
Much has been made about Young’s success from set-pieces in recent years, which have obviously led to him racking up
Obviously in the last couple of years players such as Gabriel Agbonlahor, John Carew, Richard Dunne, Martin Laursen and James Collins have profited as a result of his crosses.
Although United aren’t blessed brilliantly in the hair, despite the move and the price-tag how pivotal can his set-pieces be next season?
They’ll be Massive. With Vidic and Ferdinand making their presence known in the box during attacking set-pieces, Young’s deliveries will be begging to be put away and the forwards will love playing with him.
However in all honesty, this is one part of his game that has dipped in the last year. His wing-play has got better but his deliveries from set-pieces have not been as good as previous seasons. Nevertheless with a manager like Sir Alex, he’ll address that with ease.
There have been some wild suggestions that Ashley Young can be Ryan Giggs’ long term successor at United.
Whilst Giggs has a legacy at United that will hard for any player to live up to, can Young be the ‘creative’ force in United’s midfield for many years to come, just like Giggs has done?
There is only one Ryan Giggs like you say, and they will never be another like him. However Young never fails not to make a contribution in a game.
Nine times out of ten he’ll create a number of clear cut chances for his peers and with a team containing Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez, they’ll reap the benefits from their new team mates’ assists.
Whilst speaking to you its hard not to mention some recent games that United and Villa have had recently, which Young in particular has come to the fore in.
Last season’s clash at Villa Park saw you race into a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Young and Marc Albrighton only to United to stage a late comeback and grab a 2-2 draw.
What are your very brief memories of that game? As not only did it come at a bad moment of the season for you under Gerard Houiller, the way the game ended must have felt like a defeat for your fans?
It was an experience. I was at that game and we went from sheer jubilation and hysteria to despondence and regret in the space on ten minutes. It was the game of the season in my opinion that had everything.
We were the better team overall, even the United fans will admit that, but they have that infamous winning mentality and never say die attitude which sadly for us saw us miss out on winning the game.
It’s not the first time we have surrendered a lead to United. Ten years ago in the FA Cup Ruud van Nistelrooy inspired you to a 3-2 win when, once again, we were 2-0 up. One thing is for sure, very rarely is there a dull game between both sides who love to attack.
Of course two seasons ago you won at Old Trafford for the first time in 26 years thanks to an Agbonlahor header from a Young cross and held out for a 1-0 win.
Just how refreshing was it for you to see your team go to Old Trafford. play attacking football and win with an English heartbeat to the side?
It had been so long since we won at Old Trafford, not since the eighties, so it was great to get that monkey off our back.
You need to have a good team and perform well to get all three points at Old Trafford and it was nice for myself, having never seen Villa win there, to finally witness scenes of joy at The Theatre of Dreams for us rather than disappointment.
In conclusion, despite having £20m as a result of selling Young and the form of Darren Bent, you’ve had abit of a clear-out at Villa Park so far this off-season.
Who at Villa do you believe can step up to the plate and take Young’s place in the team, if anyone can?
As I said at the start, Marc Albrighton is a readymade replacement and possesses all the attributes that Young does. Although he can be a little naive at times with his decision making, he’s still young and will blossom into a fantastic player for us.
Being a local lad as well he is adored by our fans. I’m sure he’ll have a productive season and he’s certainly one to watch having made huge strides last season.
Thanks For That Ross!
By Adam Dennehey –@ADennehey87
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