Ashley Young has been at the forefront of some deserved criticism in his career, but perhaps it’s about time his critics started to take him seriously. In 2014/15 he beat out Angel DiMaria for a place in United’s first team, and this season he’s been making an impact down the flanks when Memphis Depay has struggled. Perhaps England don’t realise just how good Ashley Young is, because Roy Hodgson continues to leaves him out of the national squad. Yes, Youngy has dived in his career, but what player hasn’t? Perhaps he deserves credit for cleaning up his act, whilst other high profile names dive ‘week in week out’ for their clubs only to have it glazed over in commentary. Yet, it doesn’t seem to stop Roy picking them … Raheem Sterling anyone?
But England’s loss is United’s gain. The first 45 minutes of United vs Liverpool was flat and United needed some energy injected into the play. Nathanial Clyne had practically marked Memphis Depay out of the game. LVG needed to make a change and when Ashley Young came on for Memphis it proved to be the right call. The Englishman immediately stretched the defence, running at defenders and forcing them to make a challenge, beating his man on the edge of the area and winning the free kick that lead to the first goal.
This set the tempo for the second half, attack, attack, attack. Ander Herrera added a second from the penalty spot and it looked like game over. Only for Christian Benteke to score a superb over head kick to keep Liverpool in the tie. But Youngy kept plugging away down that left hand side, playing the ball through to Anthony Martial who capped off a dream debut by drilling home a superb solo effort.
Ashley Young has made 4 substitute appearances in 2015/16, but his display against Liverpool has been by far his best performance of the season. He told ManUtd.com:
“The boss told me I was coming on at the break. He didn’t give me too many instructions but I knew what I had to do.
“As a winger you want to get the ball and run at the full-back, get crosses in the box and create chances. And when you’ve got Felli [Marouane Fellaini] in the team, pulling off at the back post, you can put the ball there and know he’s going to win it.
“It was tough in the first half. Liverpool sat behind the ball for a lot of the game. We had a lot of possession but we knew we had to come out in the second half and create more chances. After getting the first goal as quickly as we did, we were always on the front foot and didn’t look back.
“We’re delighted to get the three points and bounce back from the defeat against Swansea, and there’s no better feeling than to do it against our rivals at Old Trafford.”
If Ashley continues to plug away and make an impact for United, you have to feel that he’s nearing a England recall. After an impressive two seasons under Dutch coach Louis van Gaal he deserves it. But for the moment United fans will be happy that he’s concentrating on club football and producing the type of performances that change the course of matches and maybe even seasons. He may have to change a few more minds before he starts for England again, but this lad doesn’t take “no” for an answer, so never say never.