Steven Gerrard’s career as Aston Villa manager could not have got off to a much better start, with the 41-year-old’s side securing all three points, scoring two goals and keeping a clean sheet in front of a packed Villa Park last weekend.
Not only did Villa pick up the win, but they also played some incredibly attacking football, looked deadly on the break and bettered a highly impressive Brighton & Hove Albion side in metrics such as total shots, shots on target, counter attacks and interceptions.
There were also a number of impressive individual performances, with perhaps the most surprising of these being turned in by second-half substitute Ashley Young, with the 36-year-old playing a key role in his side’s victory.
Despite featuring for just 16 minutes of Gerrard’s inaugural victory at Villa, the versatile left-back highly impressed when replacing Emiliano Buendia in his side’s three-man attack during the closing stages of Saturday’s fixture.
Indeed, £900k-rated man almost immediately set up Ollie Watkins with some “fantastic” play to bag the game’s opening goal, as well as completing 11 of his 12 passes, blocking one shot, winning both of his two duels and making one key pass – with these returns seeing the £50k-per-week veteran receive a SofaScore match rating of 7.2.
Furthermore, Gregg Evans recently claimed in an article of his for The Athletic that Gerrard was so impressed with the performances of Young in training that he considered starting the 36-year-old as Villa’s No 10 last Saturday.
And, considering the 41-year-old’s comments concerning his former England teammate following the fixture, Evans’ claim is easily believable, with Gerrard stating: “I know Ashley extremely well and I must say he has been absolutely outstanding since we’ve walked through the door. Not just on the training pitch – his leadership and the standards he sets.
“We see players like him as an outer layer of the staff if you like – he really helps. We need to lean on him. He was ready today.
“The big thing about Ash is he can play right-back, he can play left-back, he can play as an eight, he can play as a 10, he can play wide. That’s what these players allow you to do as a manager, they allow you to use them in different ways so credit to Ashley.”
As such, considering the game-changing impact Young had on the Brighton match, in addition to his incredible application in training, it would appear highly advisable for Gerrard to unleash the left-back from the off against Crystal Palace this weekend.