We’re heavily linked with Ashley Young of Villa. Forgive me for stating the obvious. But we are.
Every report for the last three weeks has told us that the deal to wrap him up is “just days away”, and blogs, tweets and fan forums , albeit quite calm at the moment while he’s getting hitched, have been getting quite excited at the prospect. But why? What do we know about Ashley Young?
Is he really the man who, could be, our marquee summer signing? I’ll be honest – I really don’t know much about him. I’ve seen Villa games on TV where he’s probably played, but in all honesty I couldn’t tell you if his name was on the team sheet or not. Not being negative about him at all, but I don’t recall watching a Villa match, and him being an outstanding player – wowing me senseless and getting me to think: “I wish he was at United”. Same as I wouldn’t know if Carlos Cuellar was playing in the same match.
So this gets me thinking about the current players we have at Old Trafford who plays in Young’s position. Nani, Giggs, Valencia, Park. Do I think he’s better than them? Well, Giggs is getting on…but is utilised in central midfield a lot. I want Nani in the team most weeks. Yes he can be a bit headless chicken sometimes, but we all know that he creates, he scores, he penetrates, and he’s our most flair player of the moment. Rumour has it he’s on his way…if he does go, whoever he signs for’s gain, and our loss. Tony V. Does this guy ever get anything wrong? Barely. He’s a fighter, as well as someone who beats the full back, crosses accurately, and you feel safe with him in the team. Park is a yappy little terrier who puts in the mileage, spots the passes and is quietly a key player. From my knowledge of these guys, including the potential new signing…I’d choose all four of them over Ashley Young.
So now I look at his other Villa team mates, and his England call ups over the last 12 months. Young and Downing are the Villa wingers. I don’t rate Downing, and think he’s probably punching above his weight at Villa anyway. But then I ask why has Downing been continuously called up for England, and had a lot of game time…and Young been left out, in the under 21s, or on the bench for England for the best part? So I look for the answer to the people who know him better than I do. The users on the Aston Villa fan forums. I wonder what they say about the want away winger? He doesn’t get the most positive reviews from some of the Villa faithful to be fair. I get the impression that on his day he can be electric, but more often than not he’s “erratic”, “hasn’t got any ideas” and they think that Villa should cash and invest the multimillions elsewhere in the squad before the real Ashley Young gets found out. None of this points at Young being the type of player we need to bolster a squad who are always competing for the title, and fight to the bitter end to get in to the Champions League final.
It seems a bit of a flat signing to me, hyped up in the media, and making reds as giddy as scousers over the return of King Kenny.
But then there’s this. The United factor. The ‘finishing school’ for those players who are about to become the next big thing, but need the coaching and the step up to top four and European level. And this is where United’s less than illustrious big money signings have then gone on to become Fergie’s shrewdest signing since the last one. So, Ashley Young…what to make of it?
Well, I would have hoped that our main signing this summer would have been an established player, with experience of winning medals on the big stage, and being able to bring the team on a bit. And that may still happen. But if Young is our biggest transfer of the summer, are we really kicking on from last term? I hope he develops over a season, and that United fans don’t get carried away with the way he is portrayed by the press and expect him to be an instant hit. Because Ashley Young isn’t a world beater.