Stating the Villa Obvious – Ashley Young Signing
There’s a presumption that everyone is entitled to an opinion. Indeed, that would be a be fair comment in a reasonable world, but one glance at Twitter or Facebook, and it’s soon apparent that we don’t actually live in a rational world. So to address some of the irrational narratives and falsehoods played out by some people on social media or to tackle opinions based on false information, it’s time for a new column called ‘Stating the Villa Obvious’ to make sense of things.
In this maiden edition, let’s deal with the naysayers to Villa giving Ashley Young another season-long contract.
The Resistance to Ashley Young’s Latest Return
While MOMS had been expecting Ashley Young to sign for another season, it seemed to be something of a surprise to a small minority of Villa fans on social media, when the 36-year-old rocked up on the first day of training, to get kitted out in his Castore training gear and re-sign for one more season.
So what were the distractor’s concerns to a seemingly simple, sensible and low cost piece of business?
‘It shows a lack of ambition’.
A lack of ambition? Young said the ambition of the Manager and Club was precisely why he put pen to paper on another year. If anything after the way Villa finished last season, you could argue there was a lack of ambition on Young’s part for staying!
‘He’s too old’.
Yes, he turns 37-years-old at the weekend, but if you watched much of last season, Young didn’t look the slowest or most unfit player on the pitch.
Cast your mind back to the first game of last season…
The previous season’s players’ player of the year, Matt Targett, was getting eviscerated at left-back in the first half, with both Watford goals coming from his position.
Young was called upon to shore up the defence against the pacy Saar. The final result may not have gone Villa’s way, but they won the second half, as the old amateur league term goes. Saar was pretty well contained, by the old man coming in at left-back.
‘He will stop youngsters coming through’.
No, he won’t. If anything he will help them come through quicker. Young knows his career is coming to an end and can pass on his experience, as he sits on the bench. He’s was a member of the last decent Villa team, a winner of silverware with Manchester United and Inter Milan, experienced winners are good to have around the place full stop, and especially of benefit to younger players looking for inspiration and guidance.
Young is a former England teammate of the Villa Head Coach too, so for Gerrard, he benefits from having a trusted conduit to his players in his ranks.
Ask yourself, who is more likely to stop a youth player from coming through. Ashley Young or a squad player in their late 20’s on bigger wages, who isn’t performing? Young on a short-term contract gives Villa some security while allowing younger players to be drip fed into action.
‘He isn’t as good as he used to be’.
No, he isn’t as good as he was when he left Aston Villa, because if he was he’d be leaving again to go and win league titles.
Young was still good enough to make 24 Premier League appearances for Villa last term, contributing two assists.
Who else should replace him? Let’s look at someone with the equivalent stats.
Tariq Lamptey also had two assists but made 30 appearances.
While he’s a player I’d like at Villa, would he make 30 appearances behind Lucas Digne? Could he fill in other positions? Would he be as cheap as giving Young another year?
NSWE aren’t a bottomless pit of money. Being financially smart covering some squad positions frees up money for other key positions.
‘He adds nothing to the team’.
As the senior pro in the dressing room, he sets the standards. Much like his ex-teammate James Milner at Liverpool, you don’t get a contract at a Premier League club out of pity anymore. You need to be at your best physically and mentally.
Last season showed that Young offers a mentality that nobody else has at Villa except maybe Martinez. Win at all costs. It’s how the big teams stay on their perch. Get in the referee’s ear, make it difficult for the opposition and control the tempo of the game.
For a player who only made mistakes against Watford at home and Wolves away, that from memory led to goals, he compares well with the rest of his back line.
Also, with the increase of the amount of substitutes you’re allowed to use this season in the Premier League, having a utility player like Young to cover several positions is more than useful.
So just take this new contract for what it is, a quality veteran, that improves the squad as a whole, who’s not here to replace or get in the way of your favourite Villa player.