The decision that could save Ashley Young’s Manchester United career

Monday's cameo on the right wing gave a glimpse of what Young could potentially do if played on his natural side.

Signed for £17million in the summer of 2011, Ashley Young’s Manchester United career to date has been a collage of injuries, disappointments and a smattering of breathtaking goals.

That the goals are the least prominent feature of said collage means the former Aston Villa winger has a lot to do – and quickly – should he wish to remain in David Moyes’ plans.

And yet Monday’s 0-0 draw against Chelsea contained an unexpected glimpse of a potential future for the 28-year-old. For the first time in a long time, Young was played on the right, and almost instantly he showed a threat previously lacking from that area of the field.

For all Antonio Valencia’s tireless running and impressive team-play, it took Young’s introduction for the first meaningful right-sided cross to appear. And against defences marshalled less effectively than John Terry’s, it could easily have led to a goal.

More crosses followed – instant, whipped in problem-makers that were dealt with but only just. Where Valencia too often turned back on himself, failed to use the pace that once made him unstoppable, and invariably dinked an unthreatening ball into the box, Young flashed the ball across the area – high or low but always with pace and precision.

As a right-footed left-winger, Young has proved sporadically effective. But cutting inside to deliver the ball too often negates the attack.

Wing-play should be swift and devastating. However, Young’s need to alter his position took that split-second in which a goal would have been scored.

For all the game’s talking points, Young’s 28-minute cameo on the opposite flank has been ignored. And yet we may have seen the first glimpse of a new dawn for the player.

With a new manager comes new ideas…and new beginnings for the entire squad.

With Young, Valencia and Nani all potentially competing for a place on the right, Moyes could have just made a problem for himself; while a few decent crosses haven’t suddenly made Young the revelation of the season.

But I saw enough in those few minutes to wonder what the player could do against less experienced defences. Valencia played well enough to keep his place, but he will have to rediscover the form that made him one of the league’s most devastating wingers.

Otherwise Young may still have the chance to show him how it is done.

Do you believe Young still has a future at Old Trafford?  And would he be more effective playing on the right?

image: © nasmac

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