Ashley Young’s arrival at Manchester United was an exciting prospect for fans. A talented English star with plenty to offer in the future and the spearhead of Sir Alex Ferguson’s redevelopment of his squad this summer.
But Young’s arrival brings up a dilemma for Sir Alex Ferguson, how does he accommodate Young, Antonio Valencia and Nani on the teamsheet?
Whilst having a bigger squad to challenge both at home and in Europe is always a bonus, it does pose some problems for Fergie. New arrival Young will want to make an instant impression at Old Trafford and look to dislodge Valencia or Nani from their wide berths.
The signing of Young prompted some speculation about the future of Nani as competition for places increased but I would expect all three to stay at the club and fight for their places as United look to successfully defend their title. But what does Fergie have to consider when trying to choose his starting wingers for United’s league games?
Young arrived in Manchester with a £20million price tag and a good reputation in the Premier League. His impressive form for Villa and increased importance amongst the national squad means that Young is likely to spend more time on the pitch than he is on the bench. He also offers a degree of versatility as he is able to slot in behind the main striker and use his skill to link up with the attack.
Despite suffering a horrific injury last season, Valencia continued to improve in a United shirt. He may be the least glamorous of all Fergie’s wide options but the former Wigan man provides consistency with his excellent crossing ability and hard work up and down the wing. Valencia has also signed a new four-year deal earlier this month, which indicates Fergie highly rates the role he can continue to play in the team.
Portuguese winger Nani is probably the most skillful of all Fergie’s options and the most traditional winger the manager has at his disposal. His ability to take on players and beat them has only ever been let down by his lack of consistency. But his match-winning performance in the Community Shield last weekend strengthens the opinion that Nani will play an even bigger role in United’s season than he has done in previous years. If he can get a measure of consistency and improve his delivery then Nani may start to emerge from the shadow of another famous Portuguese winger who made his name at Old Trafford.
The key for Fergie may be squad rotation. Having three excellent wingers in your squad means Ferguson can shuffle the pack depending on the opposition and still have options from the bench. United will face another long grueling season competing both domestically and in Europe so the importance of having fresh legs in a team can’t be underestimated.
The most exciting wide combination on paper would be Nani and Young, who both would offer the most attacking flair for United from either wing. But if they all stay fit then I expect Nani, Young and Valencia to all play pivotal roles in United’s season.
Fergie’s summer spending and the emergence of exciting youth prospects has given a new energy to United ahead of the season. The arrival of Young may give the manager a good selection headache but for United’s league opponents, it makes the defending champions all the more dangerous this season.
Written by Jenny Kerwood for FootballFancast.com.
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