Ashley Young has been causing a bit of a stir for the last few seasons now, but I’ve always wondered why. Aston Villa signed him for a huge price from Watford, and although he has produced from time to time, he never really did strike me as the future of English football. But it would seem Gerard Houllier has managed to get Young playing again, and against Blackburn he was at the heart of everything good. Maybe Ashley Young could be the future after all?
The 25-year-old was so prolific at Watford because he was the main man, deployed just behind the striker. At Villa, Young has often played second fiddle to the likes of Gabby Agbonlahor and had to be content with a place out wide. But against Blackburn, Young was given the armband, and played off a quality front man in Darren Bent and really looked the part. With Downing one side, Albrighton the other, Houllier seems to have found a system which is getting the Midlands club playing football – something the fans have been craving for years.
We all know the ‘golden generation’ of English football passed their sell by date long before the abysmal World Cup showing of last summer. Everyone is talking about how the future of the national team is James Milner or Jack Wilshere. Why not Ashley Young? If Fabio Capello adopted the same sort of system used at Villa Park, Young could play off Wayne Rooney. England may then be in danger of actually attacking teams with a bit of pace and urgency. God forbid, I know.
First things first though for the Villa player – he needs to be playing at this level consistently. He played like a leader at the weekend, which is a trait I definitely didn’t see in him before, but it is certainly not a bad one to have. There has been talk of Young moving away from Villa Park at the end of the season (just as there seems to be at the end of every season) but I hope it doesn’t happen. He could go to Manchester United or Liverpool and become a bit-part player – a role which clearly doesn’t suit him. Young should stay at Villa and spearhead the new French regime. This season may be a write-off as far as the fans are concerned, but the Villains have every reason to look forward to next season – if Young stays.
What they don’t need is to lose their best player, again. I sincerely hope Young doesn’t get his head turned by the bright lights of a top four club because next season could be the platform for the former Hornet to lead Villa’s revival and cement himself a starting berth in the England side.
It seems a long way off, but there is no reason why Ashley Young can’t be a part of a successful future at Villa and for England. He’s matured and improved, now is time for the next step: a Young lion to lead the next ‘golden generation’? Watch this space…
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