Ashley Young has been revived from the dead, after it was feared his Manchester United career was on the verge of collapsing.
He fell out of favour during Mourinho’s debut season at Old Trafford but he’s reapplied his faith into the former Aston Villa midfielder and his performances continue to repay the Portuguese mastermind’s kind faith.
Mourinho has publically criticised Luke Shaw, which has triggered rumours of his imminent departure in January. Matteo Darmian and Daley Blind have also fallen by the wayside in the early stages of the 2017/18 campaign.
Ashley Young has thrived in an unfamiliar left-back role, which he occasionally deployed under Louis Van Gaal. He’d made only 30 appearances between 2014 and 2016 in the Premier League but his versatility is also creating more playing opportunities.
His crossing qualities have been outlined in recent weeks, following his assists against FC Basel and Crystal Palace. Manchester United are beginning to utilize the offensive powers of Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young himself on the flanks and the Englishman could be a key figure in the red devils’ title race.
Despite being 32-years-old, it could also prove beneficial for his international career, which has faded over the past four years. Young has represented his country on 30 occasions but his last cap dates back to 2013.
Manchester United are gradually falling behind title favourites Manchester City, who boast a five point lead, but the likes of Ashley Young, Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku could make the difference.
Can Ashley Young enjoy one final flourish at the Theatre of Dreams and help guide the Premier League trophy back into the hands of Manchester United?
Can Ashley Young Retain The Left-Back Spot?
Luke Shaw, Matteo Darmian and Daley Blind have been kept out of the starting line-up due to Young’s promising recent performances. Unless Mourinho acquires the services of another left-back in January, it seems certain that Young has the potential to retain his left-back role.
His crossing qualities create opportunities for talisman Romelu Lukaku and his link up play with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial is essential. Fortunately, Young has gradually developed and improved defensively, which suggests he’s making the conversion from midfield to defence very comfortably.
Mourinho has also employed a back-three on occasions this season, which is still unlikely to erase Young from the starting line-up. In fact, the left-wing back role suits his attacking game to perfection, as he proved against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.
He’s also versatile and has played at right-back, central midfield, attacking midfield, right-midfield, left-midfield and even as a striker since joining Manchester United in 2011. The mass amount of cup games will open up even more playing opportunities for the 32-year-old.
Can Young’s Club Form Revive His International Career?
Ashley Young has accumulated 30 caps for England during his international career and has also featured at Euro 2012. However, he lasted represented his country from the substitutes bench during a drab 0-0 draw against Ukraine in the 2014 World Cup Qualifiers.
His Manchester United career began to decline at this point, following the arrival of Louis Van Gaal. Various injuries hampered his chances of retrieving his place in the starting line-up and the clock was ticking for the England international.
Young has scored seven goals for the three lions but is more remembered for his penalty kick that cannoned off the crossbar against Italy in their Euro 2012 quarter-final exit. He’s fitted into a less familiar role but thrived on the opportunity at Manchester United and this type of hunger, determination and style is exactly what England need down the left-hand side.
Club rivalries aside, Young could apply width and crossing opportunities on the left-hand side, whereas Raheem Sterling could play a more central attacking role, involving cutting inside and creating havoc, as he’s done in the early stages of the season for Manchester City.
Why would we ignore such a talent? Of course, we want to endorse the growth of youth but he’s there to be utilized and it’d foolish to snub such an effective player. Southgate needs to begin to select players worthy of wearing an England shirt, rather than the usual suspects that manage to get away with murder but still be given the privilege of representing their country.