Date: 7th September 2011 at 1:20am
Written by:
Ashely Young

"Give me the knife.....please!"

It’s not very often that, I’ll admit that I’m wrong on this site, in fact it’s happened only once in the past, when after last season’s Old Trafford derby, I was compelled to apologise for the criticism I’d previously levelled at John O’Shea.

This time it’s Ashley Young who deserves my apologies, not because of any any real criticism I’ve given him since he signed for United, but for the apathy I felt towards his arrival.

It was a story I read in that last bastion of journalistic integrity- The Mirror that caused me question whether United should sign the then-Villa winger.

The Mirror claimed with its usual inaccuracy, that Young’s arrival would signal the departure of Nani- a player who’s always been a favourite of mine.

The Mirror noted:
“Nani’s future at ­Manchester United will come under ­scrutiny once the Premier League champions have ­completed the capture of ­Ashley Young.

“The Portuguese winger is unhappy that United have ­refused to offer him an ­improvement on the £70,000-a-week contract ­extension that he signed last March.

“And with United set to ­complete the ­£15million ­signing of Young from Aston Villa now that the winger has ­returned from ­international duty with England, Sir Alex ­Ferguson could cash in on the 24-year-old if Real Madrid firm up interest in him by lodging a bid.”

I immediately panicked and couldn’t post an article quickly enough, sharing my shock and horror at such a prospect.

“Young In, Nani Out, Say It Aint So” was the title of my piece which ranted on about the need to keep Nani and whether we actually needed a player who “may or may not be United class” to painfully quote myself.

The nadir of my drivel was where I claimed with all the assurance of someone who actually needs to get some sleep: “I’m not too keen on the Young deal if I’m totally honest, simply because I don’t think we actually need him. Young’s a right footed player who plays on the left, but I feel United would be better served with a naturally left footed winger- an Antonio Valencia for the left hand side if you will.” Ouch!

It may have only been a few competitive games for United and a couple for England, since he joined us but even an idiot like myself can see that Young, well and truly is ‘United class.’ He’s been nothing short of a revelation and showed his ability again for England tonight, not just with his goal but also his general play. Against Arsenal he was unlucky not to get the man of the match award – despite Wayne Rooney’s hat-trick, while against WBA he actually was given that accolade.

Watching Young against Spurs a couple of weeks ago, I was amazed at just how much he wanted the ball and how willing he was to attack either the full back, or the space. Also unlike my beloved Nani sometimes, was always aware of when a team mate was in a better position and despite my claims to the contrary- equally adept at whipping in cross with his left as he was with his right.

It may seem premature to claim Young has shown he’s good enough for United yet, but I’m fully prepared to stick my neck out and predict he will be a great player for the club.

Young is a joy to watch and the type of player United fans have always loved, the skilful winger, who can not just win games, but also entertain.

I feel it only prudent to expose some of my fellow writers misgivings before Young signed. Stephen Juniper wrote:
“Although I think Young is a good player is he really what united need? I dont think he is! we already have, probably got the two best wingers in the premier league in Valencia and Nani.

While Steve Crabtree went one further with an article back in June titled: “Why I’m Not Excited About Ashley Young.” I’m sure I don’t need to tell you the crux of Steve’s argument.

Before you delete this site from your newsnow list, it’s worth noting not all of our writers were quite so foolhardy. Ryan Donovan wrote an article called: “Seven Reasons Why Ashley Young Will Be A Great Signing For United.” I’m sure I don’t need to explain the sentiment behind it.

While Tom Daniel made Young the first reason of his Five Reasons I’m Already Excited For The New Season article, stating: I’ve thought the winger belongs at United ever since he started to flash potential when Watford came to the Premier League, now he’s here this signing could be a big impact on the team.

It seems as a site, we had somewhat differing opinions on whether Young, was good enough to make an impact but I have admit I was doubtful to say the least.

Already Young has proven myself and all the other doubters wrong, so for having such a negative view and for failing to recognise just what he could bring to the side. Ashley Young, I apologise and look forward to watching more of you at United.

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16 responses to “An Apology To Ashley Young”

  1. Azm says:

    Awesome retraction! Signs of a good journalist! Well done!

  2. Red Ken says:

    There have been many who were Luke warm about the signing of Ashley Young. At least you are man enough to admit you were

  3. CROoney says:

    you really wrote some crap in that one

  4. José says:

    Justin, don’t be hard on yourself, you were basically voicing what most United fans were thinking. I feel that as we were well covered in the wide areas, with Valencia, Nani, Park, Giggs and Welbeck and Cleverly playing out wide on their respective loans, Every manu fan was crying out for a world class CMF. I think this is the main fact young’s arrival didn’t get the excitement it deserved. I was a massive fan of young at Watford and wanted him when Vila signed him and prob would of been more excited at that point.
    But I do feel the team he is playing in at united is bringing out the best in him and vice-versa. and while not being an England fan him playing with Rooney, Welbeck and Cleverly weekly can only be good for them in attack.

    • dibils says:

      speak for yourself. you mean what most united fans WHO DONT WATCH ANY TEAM OUTSIDE MAN UTD were thinking

      cause i knew Young was quality and a great addition to the squad. i am glad he settled in quick to shut all the haters up

      • jose says:

        dibilis, you missed my point totally. What I said was that the position was not the most in need of attention, everyone knew Young was quality but we had world class wingers already and appeared to be lacking in CM. i’m chuffed to see how Cleverly has added that extra dimension in Midfield and filled that void, but even the most optimistic supporters have to be blown away at how quickly both Young and Cleverly have settled into the setup. Not forgetting Welbeck and Jones.

      • jose says:

        PS. I ‘was’ speaking for myself and the majority of Manu supporters I have been speaking to, and giving an explanation for the lack of enthusiasm over his signing. please point out where I questioned Young’s ability. Please read carefully before replying.

  5. RedDevil says:

    Have to agree with you totally on this, I too was sceptical of his arrival.

    Not only was I wrong but even though he’s only played a few games for us I have been blown away by Young’s performances.

    I can’t wait for the day we have a line up with Young and Valencia on the wings with Nanni having a free role maybe.

    I’m drooling as I write this as this team has the shape of UTD from the past with real wingers bombing up and down.

    Well done to our great manager again, he’s added zip to UTD and changed what seemed like an aged team last two season to one of the youngest (average age) teams in the premiership by making small tweeks to the team.

    Lets not forget Smalling and Phil Jones who are looking like the backbone of the team of the future, learning from the best centre back pairing in Rio and Vidic.

    UTD for ever!

    • jose says:

      Can only see Nani, Young and Valencia playing at the same time very rarely, possible due to injuries to strikers/CFs, which shouldn’t be a problem this year.

  6. Darthy says:


    Villa fan here in peace….

    We knew what player you were getting, and there is nothing more annoying than hearing your best player being touted as “not good enough” by a large number of fans of the team he is going to.

    The point is, at Villa in his first seasons with us he was awesome and as O’Neil said “world class!” But then he got found out, and as one of our only creative players he was 2/3 man marked and effectively taken out of games…..but he still delivered and had the stats to prove it.

    At Utd he will have more space than ever, with better players and movement around him, he will give 110% for 90 minutes….and not just going forward, watch him track back/tackle etc etc….

    He will shine at Utd – although his going down easy may get your backs up !!

    Well done for the apology….I am sure there are a number of Utd fans who wouldnt admit thier mistake !!


  7. Matt says:

    It’s similar to the Yorke signing. Back then us Villa fans knew Yorke was a great player but many United fans at the time were in a Cantona hangover induced sense of self importance. It seemed a player from a mediocre club surely couldn’t be any good. Despite many of them not having watched him play much.

    One of the key things with Yorke was his link up play (particularly with Cole) and we can see that Young is linking up well with teammates already and Rooney seems to have benefited.

    I think SAF knew Young was going to fit in to his style of play and link up perfectly with other players, rather than him being an amazing world class footballer in his own right. This kind of ability to spot pieces of a jigsaw to build a great team is what sets him apart from other managers who will sign world class players and expect them to perform straight away when they are really square pegs in round holes.

  8. Steve Crabtree says:

    Thanks for putting me on the spot there, Justin! 🙂

    To summarise, my piece wasn’t based on my views of him being negative. As stated from the outset (and missed by many as is often the case), I didn’t know enough about Ashley Young and whether he was worthy of a place at Old Trafford. So I decided to look at the Villa fan forums and see what they were saying. You’ll see from the article what my findings were about inconsistency, and laughing all the way to the bank as it were…. And that’s what stopped me getting giddy at his signing. The comments from Villa fans on the post further seemed to back up my findings.

    But whilst we’re having the Ashley Young love in, I will join it and say that I’ve seen nothing of the sort of player that the Villa fans weren’t holding in the most positive of lights. And after seeing what he can do, he’s an obvious improvement to the side. There is room for improvement in small aspects of his play (15 crosses in the WBA game, none of which found a red shirt – which may have been part of the Villa fans’ frustrations against Young), but as I said in the post – what better a finishing school to become the finished article than at Old Trafford.

    And I think the guy is awesome.

  9. bruce thomas says:

    Martin O’Neill long ago said Young was “world class”. Everyone laughed. fair play for owning up in this piece. I thought he’d be OK, but he’s really hit the ground running. He be a great player for us.

  10. Fido says:

    Aren’t you the one who thinks Carrick is good enough and should be in the first team, that he is one of the key factors why we have one the league 5 times? You need to apologize.