Former Watford teammate Gavin Mahon has backed Manchester United’s Ashley Young to thrive as a wing-back in Louis van Gaal’s 3-5-2 system this season.
Mahon played four seasons with Young at Watford before the 29-year-old’s £8 million move to Aston Villa in January 2007, with his form in the midlands eventually earning him another lucrative switch to United in June 2011.
However, after a solid debut campaign at Old Trafford, the winger has struggled to find his form over the past two seasons, losing his place in the England side, while fuelling speculation of a potential departure this summer.
Van Gaal’s arrival though has seen Young deployed as a wing-back in the Dutchman’s new formation during pre-season, with his displays earning rave reviews, and Mahon isn’t surprised given the ex-Hornet’s suitable attributes.
‘Ashley’s got all the attributes to play there,’ he told Sky Sports News Radio. ‘Because he’s so quick with the ball and he’s amazingly fit – he could run all day.
‘When we did the bleep test we had to hope the recording stopped or the power went off because he’d just keep running, so he’s got that in his locker.
‘Quality-wise, delivering crosses is key for a wing-back and Ashley’s got that end-product, and he’s also confident in his own ability.
‘When you go to a club like Manchester United you’re going to have knock-backs and go through spells of bad form, but Ashley’s good enough and has the right people around him.
‘I’m not surprised he’s done so well in pre-season because he’s the kind of character that goes away during the summer, gets himself fit and comes back raring to go.
‘You look at him when he was at Villa, or even when he first went to United, he was on absolute fire and people were saying what a great signing he was,’ he added.
‘But sometimes footballers just do go through a lack of form, or their confidence drops, and it’s really not easy at such a big club like United to get that back again.
‘You see in the back of the papers or hear on the radio that you don’t fit into the team or aren’t a United player and it can’t be easy.
‘But he’s come back and hopefully he does stay and become a shining light for them this season.’