Ashley Young Leaves Aston Villa (Again)
“…ambition is to get us back into Europe, where I believe the Club should be. That was a massive draw for me.”
Father time catches up with all of us eventually, and with Ashley Young turning 38 in July, it seemed logical that Unai Emery would consider next season to be one too far for the player at Aston Villa. The club today announced that Young would indeed leave the club.
Emery wouldn’t have taken this decision lightly, and he recently mentioned his willingness to look past a player’s age when discussing Young’s contribution as an older player. “If you didn’t know his age, you could think he is 28 because he plays very well every day, even with the amount of playing time he gets,” reflected Emery on Young last month. “In the past, you would usually see players at the age of 32 or 34 starting to finish their careers, but at Villarreal, we signed players like Jose Luis Morales who were 35 or 36, and we didn’t change our minds due to their age. Now it’s the same for Young… Of course, he can extend his career beyond this year.”
Emery reiterated what Villa supporters have witnessed over the past couple of seasons—the clear value of Young’s experience for the team, injecting a dose of street smarts that the team had been lacking.
One only needs to recall Young’s appearance as a substitute for the injured Matty Cash in the first half against Manchester City at Villa Park. Within minutes, he engaged in a foot race with Kevin De Bruyne, and it seemed like curtains for Villa. However, Young not only won the ball but also put City’s star man on his backside. Young was certainly up for the fight.
European Mission Completed
Young signed for a second season at Villa because he bought into the goal of returning Villa to European competition, as hyped by Gerrard. “His ambition is to get us back into Europe, where I believe the club should be,” reflected Young after signing for a second season. “That was a massive draw for me.”
While Gerrard spoke about it, Young played a significant role in turning that goal into reality. Many supporters were sceptical about Young having another season at Villa, but they were proved to be very wrong, as he performed better than in his first season back.
While it didn’t work out for Gerrard, Emery got Villa back on track for European football. Young’s wily experience proved invaluable in getting Villa over the line in games, and for MOMS money, he became the first-choice right-back over Matty Cash during the season.
Young’s second spell at Villa, which saw him play an additional 53 Premier League games for the club, means he has now played more league games for Villa than he did at Manchester United. However, he ultimately played more games for United across all competitions, with 261 appearances compared to 247 for Villa.
Villa End of Season Sale – Click Below
He certainly completed a redemption arc at Villa, having left the club in his prime for Manchester United — in the kind of move that normally gets you expunged from the Villa record books.
Due to the former England International’s two spells at the club, fans have discussed the possibility of giving him a coaching role at Villa. While this sentiment is well-intentioned, it can sometimes be driven by lazy nostalgia.
Villa would have run the performance data on Young and have to consider that age is not on his side. Villa are very much about to step it up a gear in terms of the level they want their match day squad to be at. The cold reality is Young isn’t going to get any better now and full-back is a position that any deficiencies are ruthlessly exposed.
Emery’s decision is the right one, but at the same time, it has been a bonus storyline for both Young and Villa supporters that he returned to help Villa secure European qualification, just as he did a decade ago.
We wish him well and it was good to have him back.