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The man who stuck by Ashley Young

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Phil McNulty | 14:06 UK time, Thursday, 23 June 2011

When Ashley Young pulls on a Manchester United shirt it will be a proud moment for the mentor who stood by him when his career was in jeopardy - and not just because he has moved on from the battered green Ford Fiesta that was once his ramshackle transport to training.

Chris Cummins was the voice that spoke up for teenager Young when Watford were on the verge of casting him aside amid fears that his slight frame was not designed for the rigours of the professional game.

Cummins - now working with youngsters at Reading - had guided Young since he arrived at Vicarage Road as an eight-year old and insisted he had the ability and footballing intelligence to make up for lack of stature.

Former Watford and England manager Graham Taylor, who brought Cummins in as youth development officer, credits him with the show of faith that set Young on the path to England honours and Old Trafford now that he has completed his move transfer from Aston Villa.

Ashley Young in action for Watford.

Young was sold by Watford to Aston Villa in 2007. Photo: Getty images

Cummins is justifiably proud of how his judgement on the fledgling Young has been vindicated, but he is equally keen to highlight the part played by the winger and his supportive parents Sharon and Luther.

He still keeps in contact with Young and admits there will be a genuine sense of joy and pride when Cummins meets up with his parents for a cup of tea next week.

He told BBC Sport: "Ashley came to Watford as a young lad of eight and worked his way through the system. His attitude to training was first class. He never missed a session, had great ability and from a very early age you could see how bright he was as a footballer.

"When he got to 15 or 16 there was a school of thought at Watford that he wasn't big enough, strong enough or quick enough to make a professional footballer. I felt I knew him best from working with him and thought he had bags and bags of ability. I really felt there was something there and I think you have got to trust the people who work with the players more than anyone else.

"I'm not one of those that believes you have to be six-feet plus to be a good footballer. I just saw a fantastic footballer and luckily they listened to my opinion about Ashley and kept him there.

"I think even he might say he struggled a little physically in his upbringing in football and have a little smile or perhaps even a wince when he looks back at some old photos but he has blossomed and all that natural ability is still there. He listened, took the knocks and proved people wrong. He has proved his character and his ability and I couldn't be more pleased for him."

Taylor, who had two spells as Watford manager, told me: "I was in charge when Ashley was in the academy, so I knew about this young boy we had. When I left he was in the process of coming through at youth level and it was decided by the people there that he wasn't going to be big enough or strong enough to hold himself in professional football.

"Chris Cummins was adamant that Watford should not let him go. They didn't offer him a professional contract, so Ashley asked Watford if they would they let him come in and train on a full-time unpaid basis with the youth team from the start of the season until December, also playing for them.

"He did it for nothing and they then realised that he had developed into their best player at youth level and they offered him a professional contract. They then sold him to Villa for £8.5m going up to £9.6m, and now he has moved again Watford get 15% of anything over that figure. Chris Cummins deserves a lot of credit for that."

Watford are now on course to claim that windfall as a welcome financial benefit from the shrewd judgement of Cummins.

He recalled: "Ashley could have gone off to a lower league club and I would have tried to find him one, but he came back and trained with the under-16s and the rest, as they say, is history - he is now a world-class player at a wonderful club like Manchester United.

"One of the big stories in Ashley's background was when David Platt was running the England Under-21 team and needed a player for a practice match. We had a youth match at Watford and Ashley wasn't playing so we sent him over and the reports we got back was 'this kid Ashley Young was fabulous'.

"He then got his opportunity at Watford thanks to Ray Lewington and he proved our point that you don't have to be a giant to make it at the highest level in football. I'm a great believer that the brightest players, in footballing terms, make the best players and Ashley is a case in point.

"If you told him something in a training session he picked it up right away and his football brightness was phenomenal, even as a little 'un. This is now shown in his ability to play in numerous positions, a quality that has made him such a valuable commodity."

Cummins is full of praise for the role played by Young's parents in ensuring their son followed his dream, recalling: "Ashley's parents were absolutely first-class. They always made sure he got to sessions and he is a credit to himself and his family.

"They are the sort of people who would have totally supported Ashley if he had decided to be a plumber and a bricklayer rather than a professional footballer. I'm going over for a cup of tea with them next week and they will be so proud."

Ashley Young during a training session with the England senior squad.

Young made his senior England debut in 2007 and has 15 caps. Photo: Getty images

Once Young broke into Watford's team his career trajectory brought him that move to Villa and now he will be a key component of Sir Alex Ferguson's Old Trafford rebuilding programme.

Cummins said: "As a youth coach you always want to produce your first million-pound player and I'm not too big to admit I've shed the odd tear when I see how well Ashley has done for himself and his family. Any player that comes through your system and does so well fills you with a real sense of pride and I feel that with Ashley.

"I'm so pleased for him. He's kept his feet on the ground, remembered the privileged position professional footballers are in. You still see him at charity events and he used to come along to some of my coaching sessions as well.

"He was always a quiet but confident lad but the biggest thing for me is that he's got rid of that battered old green Ford Fiesta he used to drive into training. He took some right stick for that but he's moved on to something better."

Now Young will hope he has moved on to something better as he aims to challenge for the Premier League and Champions League at Old Trafford.


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  • Comment number 1.

    All i can say is that i hope he does well at Man U for the simple reason that England the national team need good hot prosoects, and AY has developed into a much better player than he was 2 years and more ago, when he just ran with the ball with his down going knowhere.

    Lets hope this move is a good football education for him.

  • Comment number 2.

    Paying the reported 15-17m for striker who had 1 year left on his contract seems too much..may be its the price of being an English player!

  • Comment number 3.

    Don't really know what you make of Young. He seems to be able to play any attacking role, but I've rarely seen him do more than flatter to deceive. He has sparkled at times and at other times has looked out of his depth.

    Still, at Man U he'll be going to a club that has something of a settled system and he'll probably be given more of a specific role which may help to focus his talent.

    Makes me laugh though that people still call him a young player. He's 25! Sure, his best years could be at Man U but let's not kid ourselves that he's still raw.

  • Comment number 4.

    Good player at a good price. He is worth more than £17m but obviously Villa had to sell coz he wasnt going to stay. Quick, deceptively strong and can play right across the front line. I expect him to now cement his place in the England side once he starts playing CL football.

    Dont know where this leaves Villa. A cheeky fiver on Villa to get relegated might be a good bet.

  • Comment number 5.

    Seems like a pretty risk free acquisition. Difficult to envisage him not doing well there. Interesting to see what position he plays most often. He's probably the only English winger who's equally effective on both sides of the pitch, but he seems to fancy himself as 2nd striker. I reckon Ferguson will use him on the left most of the time and sell either Nani or Park.

  • Comment number 6.

    I don't think Ashley Young can offer more than our current wing pairing of Nani and Valencia...I thought this coming season was when we'd see the best of these two but the shadow of Ashley Young looms large, and Nani may well depart to Spain and be another one of those players (Guiseppe Rossi, Diego Forlan) who Fergie will regret not holding on to to see them develop.

    I would rather have seen United spend this kind of money on a replacement for Paul Scholes as opposed to another winger - once Fergie signs a replacement for Van der Sar, I wonder if the Glazers will bolt close the cheque book for this summer?

  • Comment number 7.

    But Man United already have Nani and Valencia - surely centre midfield is where they should be splashing the dosh?

  • Comment number 8.

    I was quite surprised when I heard of United's interest, but I suppose it will add further competition for places between Young, Nani, Park and Valencia, especially with Park in his thirties and Bebe and Obertan not really challenging.

    I can't really imagine him tearing a top team apart, but with Fergie as his manager and quality players around him, maybe he'll step up a level. And in fairness, his statistics are quite impressive for a club outisde the top six.

  • Comment number 9.

    And a central midfielder is surely what United will look for now. I feel Sneijder or Nasri would be brilliant, but they may cost more than Fergie would be willing to pay.

  • Comment number 10.

    The photo caption is wrong. He was sold in 2007 right?

  • Comment number 11.

    Good business for Man Utd and good for England, he will be playing CL football and winning trophies which will give him confidence. Same with Phil Jones

    I just wish Arsene Wenger would put his hand in his pocket for these types of players!!

    Utd won the league last season at walking pace and they are rebuilding the squad, Wenger better do the same!

  • Comment number 12.

    I hope Man United go 3-4-3 next year!

    De Gea £20m

    Jones £20m Ferdinand £30m Smalling £10m

    Valencia £18m Carrick £18m Anderson £17m Nani £17m

    Rooney £30m Berbatov £30m Young £17m

    Is anyone else sick of Man City and Chelsea trying to buy the league?

  • Comment number 13.

    He's as petulant as Ronaldo was in the beginning but without the skill, Not overly sorry to see him go either to be honest. Has moments of brilliance but lets his temper and mood swings take over his clear ability... He was slowly beginning to think he was bigger than the club and think hes goona have a culture shock next season with higher levels of discipline expected and he'll be right down the pecking order when it comes to the limelight. UTV

  • Comment number 14.

    Get the feeling that Obertan will get the bullet after this.

    Good signing; Young is versatile and that's why we've bought him. He did well in the middle for Aston Villa at times and obviously he's a good winger. I think with Scholes gone Carrick will be put back to a more attacking CM role and with Park getting older and maybe a bit slower(but not any less fitter by the looks of things!!!!) then we'll rely upon Carrick/Anderson as the more offensive midfielder with Fletcher/Park doing the defensive dirty work in the middle of the park; Ashley Young can fill in if Carrick and Anderson are out, Cleverley being another option. He should get plenty of games on the left wing though.

    Only question is will he displace Valencia or Nani and bolt down a first team place?

  • Comment number 15.

    I really hope Nani stays. Best winger in the league in the last 12 months.

    Young is good and may well step up a level in terms of performances now at United but Nani has a higher ceiling of potential/ability (as well as a better arsenal of attacking weapons then Valencia), which he has showcased since the beginning of 2010.

    The sheer number of goals Nani has been involved in since the Hull game in Jan 2010, in terms of assists and goals, is fantastic.

    Hope Young turns out to be a good signing of course but I would truly be disappointed and baffled if Nani was sold. Really stepped up to the plate during Valencia's absence as well as Rooney's poor form in the first half of the season.

    'Is anyone else sick of Man City and Chelsea trying to buy the league?'

    I see what you are trying to do there with your post....ha....ha(!)

    Considering United have won considerable prize money in the last few seasons with winning PL titles and reaching CL finals, United are entitled to spend I would have thought.

    I am sure that is the same way City have funded/justified their transfer spending in the last two/three seasons (one FA Cup win = a few league titles and CL finals I assume?) (!)

  • Comment number 16.

    Every single time the BBC mentions Aston Villa, Graham Taylor's name gets trotted out (fourth para).

    I know the BBC pays Taylor to give us the benefit of his dubious 'insights' but, for goodness sake, he only managed Villa for three years.

    Get over it, Beeb!

  • Comment number 17.

    Nice article....seem to have forgotten the 4 1/2 years Aston Villa have played in his development.

    He was far from the finished article when he arrived at Villa Park.

    Good luck Ash, unlike certain others who have left recently you are moving to a genuinely world class Manchester club in and will get a good reception when you return to B6.


  • Comment number 18.

    Given he's english, theres probably a premium of 5-7m on his price, even with only 1 year left. from our perpective, we havent had any consistent dead ball delivery since Hargeraves was on the scene. Young gives us this. A decent supply line for Chicharito methinks. Has the potential to step up a level, we'll see. worryingly, we havent addressed the central MF issue, we need a holding player and a creative/goalscoring midfielder urgently. The French contigent Newacstle seem to be picking up and being linked with dont seem to be on our radar (mathuidi would be a good fit, and not too overpriced). Hoping Lord Ferg has a plan to address this

  • Comment number 19.

    "I'm not one of those that believes you have to be six-feet plus to be a good footballer. I just saw a fantastic footballer and luckily they listened to my opinion......"

    Yet we in England still persist in attempting to produce players with an emphasis on physical ability rather than football/skills ability.
    Barcelona’s midfield trio of Messi, Xavi & Iniesta, their heights are 5” 6 ½ in, 5” 7in and 5” 7 in respectively (or one Peter Crouch) and they happen to gave Man U a football lesson on that night in Wembley and I am a Man U fan.

    Now I am not for one moment attempting to say the Ashley Young is the next Messi, far from it. But the sooner we move away from this stupid youth policy of attempting to look for & produce players based on their physical attributes rather than their footballing skills, the quicker we (not just clubs but for the national team too) will produce players that can compete with the worlds best players & teams.

  • Comment number 20.

    So this is who SAF signs to bring ManU up to Barcelona's standard? Haha, good luck with that one.

  • Comment number 21.

    At 16:15 23rd Jun 2011, THIS IS THE NEWS wrote:

    Get the feeling that Obertan will get the bullet after this.


    And not before time. One of Fergie's Kleberson/Cruyff-esque real turkeys...

  • Comment number 22.

    Anyhoo, I hope this attitude of the need for players to be big and strong in this country is on the wane. Getting fed up of seeing the results of such attitudes still existing today.

  • Comment number 23.

    Utd need better than this if they really want to challenge Barca.

  • Comment number 24.

    Firstly Phil, I'd like a little bit of respect for the Ford Fiesta. My first ever car, and a van conversion at that! Took myself and friends to football grounds all over England for seasons, not to mention to Germany for Euro '88.

    Doesn't this story vindicate critics of our youth set up, where early developers are fast tracked, and late developers are thrown on the scrap heap? I'm sure if Xavi or Iniesta had been in the hands of many of our coaches, thay'd've been told they'd never make it.

    I think this move indicates the importance of wing play to Ferguson. I haven't seen a lot of Ashley Young, but he doesn't seem to have any inhibitions about taking on full backs, which is right down his new manager's street. Will he be up to the mark?

  • Comment number 25.

    So, does this mean 4-3-3 or 4-4-2? We keep being told that one of them is old fashioned, but which one is it?

    Surely, it's a question of having talented, positionally and tactically aware players, regardless of whatever formation is used?

    All these varieties that keep being bandied about, notably before a live game for example. Do the teams actually have to tell the media what they're doing or do the media just guess for the sake of five minutes of build up filler?

  • Comment number 26.


    If clubs can only spend based on prize money what chance do lower teams ever have of competing. The same teams would be top forever. Boring!

    Man City have taken it to the extreme but if it weren't for investment in Blackburn and Chelsea we'd have had only two different winners since the Premier League began and three since 1985!

    A bit of investment can change the dynamics and that is exciting and refreshing!

    I think the best way to sort things out is by limiting squad size. Example: There is no need for Man United to have EIGHT top centre backs. If these were spread to two other teams as well there might be a bit more competition. Hoovering up so many players is a basic way of stopping other clubs competing.

  • Comment number 27.

    not happy about this signing at all, don't think barce, real or any other top team would have been interested at half the price -

    looks like fergy hasn't learned at all from 2 final fiasco's against barce, the days of 4-4-2 are finished unless you can get 2 unbelievable centre mids - which we haven't

    carrick has to go, he has been poor for too long and isn't even good enough for mr capello- anderson is in last chance saloon and i'm sure if it wasn't for the fact he cost so much, which wouldn't be recuperated may well have gone. park is useful for certain scenarios, nani is 'flat course bully' e.g. when 4-0 up at home against blackburn is a world beater.

    this summer should have been spent signing 2 if not 3 WORLD class centre midfielders, a goalkeeper and a striker (on the basis of selling berba and owen), yet so far we have a 5th choice centre back who cost £16million and has played about 20 games and now a winger in last year of his contract costing 17 million who wouldn't get in barce's B side.

  • Comment number 28.

    I thought this was a strange signing for Man Utd. I thought SAF would have gone for a decent CM who could replace Scholes not another FWD. SAF could have gone with a decent combative CM or a deep lying playmaker.

    Ashley Young is just another forward to go with Nani, Valencia, Berbatov, Rooney, Owen and Hernandez. Young has creativity but isn't a playmaker, can beat a player but isn't a world beater and can score but isn't prolific. He only really plays LW cutting in on his favoured right foot and in the hole. Surely Rooney will play the hole unless Hernadez is sacrificed and Nani has to be a better option on the wing.

    Unless he is going to warm the bench I don't see how he will make it into that squad. He is too similar to what Utd have already got. He isn't young anymore he is 25. Utd will get his best years (probably) but he is entering the middle of his career. Young relies on his pace and agility which will diminish once he reaches 30 so unless he adapts like Giggs then he won't have a long career with Utd.

    With Carrick and Fletcher now the only real options for Utd's central midfield you have got ask why Young was bought and not a decent CM?

    Young is a decent player but £17 mil is a steep price and I don't think he will be much help for Utd.

  • Comment number 29.

    surely there will be competition in midfield. Why doesn't SAF go for Nasir or Wesly, these are the guys who can handle Barcelona. not Young for christ's sake.

  • Comment number 30.

    Grandad selected what he thought was his strongest side against Barcelona (well he ought to have).

    It did not include Nani.

    Now they have bought Young.

    Nani is better than Young.


    Really hope that United draw Barca over two legs next year - we might get to see a double figures scoreline on aggregate.

  • Comment number 31.

    Great to have Young on board he's certainly an exceptional talent Phil and of course we've bolstered the defence with the signing of Jones.
    But for Me the key postions we need to fill are a new keeper with Eddie retiring and a postion we've needed to strengthen for many years now in my opinion which is central midfield.
    We've never replaced Keane and with Scholes retiring it leaves Us vunerable not only in winning and controlling midfield but playing making when we get the ball.
    This was illustrated fully against Barcelona, although admittedly we were playing one of the top ten teams of all time in my opinion.
    Many of my fellow United supporters will of course point to the fact that we still won the league by nine points. However I would suggest that last year more than any other shows the culture that Fergie has built into the club. A never say die attitude that last year won the title with an average central midfield.
    I'd illustrate my point by asking you to build four teams out of the premeirship players available last year and I'm sure in most cases there would be no United players chosen.

  • Comment number 32.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 33.

    #31 redheadedtreble99

    Great to have Young on board he's certainly an exceptional talent
    Is he? He has his moments but I think that is all. Sure, what he does can be made more valuable in a better team but exceptional in himself? Not in my opinion.

  • Comment number 34.

    @28 I can't see him going to Utd and warming the bench. At least, I'm sure that's not what he's expecting, especially as he's becoming more of an England regular. But how he fits into Utd's team I'm not sure, so it is a bit of an odd one.

  • Comment number 35.


    I have got nothing against investment from owners to a certain extent but this sort of holier-than-thou 'i have football's interests at heart bla bla bla' vibe your trying to put across in post 26 is certainly different avenue of attack to the sly petty jibe in post 12.

    The last paragraph is baffling as not all of our centre backs are of 'top' quality, some (Brown and O'Shea) are being moved on and have been/were moved on to PL clubs (Cathcart and Shawcross) in recent times. Eight top centre backs? Don't be ridiculous.

    Your latest but childish post, 30, illustrates how hollow and fake your holier-than-thou 'i have football's interests at heart bla bla bla' vibe is in post 26.

    I'll leave it there, in terms of debating with your posts as its tedious, the childish and tribal nature of it.

  • Comment number 36.

    As a Villa supporter I’m quite pleased to get £17M with only a year left on his contract to buy out.

    Ashley Young is a talented player but is very inconsistent, his crossing is cringe worthy most of the time and his diving is embarrassing. I suspect that he’ll become a bench player for United before moving on in a few years time. He isn't of the calibre to help beat the likes of Barcelona.

    Stewart Downing is the better player of the two but with two years left on his contract, and Ashley gone, I don’t think Villa will be selling this summer.

  • Comment number 37.

    Ashley Young undoubtably has talent, and on his day can be a match winner. Unfortunately those have become fewer and further between. However, like many Villa fans I know, I am more than happy to see him go. He plays football with a snarl, challenging every decision against him, even when he is obviously wrong. His first instinct is to fall over if challenged, rather than try to evade a tackle and head for goal. His overall attitude is both 'cocky' and 'mardy', and if his crossing and shooting ability matched up to his own opinion of himself then I might be a little upset about him leaving. But, in essence he is a Manchester Utd type of player through and through -like Nani or Ronaldo, but with less than half of their skill!

  • Comment number 38.


    Villa to get relegated - you wish. Back in the top 6 next season like usual.

    I wish Young well but he has not turned overnight into a superstar because he's signed for Man Utd. 25 years old and only 15 England caps tells its own story. He is a poor finisher as any Villa fan will confirm, missed as many penalties as he scored and is an outrageous diver.

    In 12 months time the CL teams will all want Marc Albrighton who will step in his boots no problem and can shoot straight.

    And Downing for £19m - bye bye!

  • Comment number 39.


    EIGHT top class centre backs


    I was wrong! There are ONLY seven!

    The likes of Evans, Smalling, O Shea and Jones should be at clubs like Villa, Everton etc defending against Rooney, Nani and Hernandez instead of cheering them on from the sidelines.

  • Comment number 40.

    Pretty well agree with sidsleftfoot, except that it might take us a couple of years more to get back into the top 6, especially if we sell Carlos Cuellar. How can Villa even consider offloading the best centre back at the club (by far), especially for the supposed £3m being quoted.

  • Comment number 41.

    As a Villa fan, I don't know where this leaves us... We should have a lot of money to spend this summer, but how we'll do depends on who we bring in. If we can get the likes of N'Zogbia, Scott Dann and qulity of that level then we'll be ok.

    As for Young, he's a bit of a drama queen and goes down very easily and if i'm being honest i'm not sure he actually improves United that much... But he never stops trying and demending a higher quality from his team.

    We'll miss him very much at Villa. Some Villa fans got tired of his antics and were happy to get rid... I think those people are living in a dream world! Best player we've had in the last 6 or so years and I wish him luck and thank him for all his efforts.

  • Comment number 42.

    'Marc Albrighton'

    I definitely prefer him over Young and Downing, if I were to choose. As well as not being a great fan of Young and Downing, I think Albrighton has the potential to be a really good player. A pity he isn't left footed, then I'd definitely would want him at United. A good prospect indeed, me thinks.



    'TOP CLASS centre backs' = 'Evans O'Shea Brown'

    bemused and amused

  • Comment number 43.

    Villa back in the top 6!?

    Lets put this in perspective -


    Are you seriously saying Villa will break back in? With all 6 of those teams currently better than Villa and with more spending power? No chance.

  • Comment number 44.

    has anyone thought of fergy next season perhaps using nani in more of a ronaldo kind of role in cutting in to attack and using ashley young and valencia on the wings. Then with Rooney supporting Hernandez and Fletcher helping out the defence.
    Ferguson is not stupid!!
    I am sure he has something up his sleeve in buying young.

  • Comment number 45.

    I can't understand why most of the posters are expecting Man United to buy players to beat Barcelona. We aren't the only ones who need to stop Barca, there are 30+ teams trying to do that and I hope any of them do.

    United are increasing their strength in their preferred mode of attack, i.e. their wings. Nani and Valencia are the preferred ones currently but in case they get injured, which is very much a possibility, they would need an able replacement which is what 'Young' offers. And considering United compete in a lot of tournaments like other top clubs, this strength in depth would be useful in reclaiming the league title and also compete for other cups.

    Hope Young comes good at United. Glory Man United!

  • Comment number 46.

    I forgot there are only two teams in the world, Man Utd and Barcelona.

    I would like to place money on the fact neither team plays each other for at least two seasons making the comparison ridiculous and i would also bet money they don't play antoher CL final for at least 5 seasons.

  • Comment number 47.

    I do think Villa have, in general, some really good young players coming through. Would hope that the new manager makes room for the likes of Bannan (destroyed our reserve midfield, a midfield that had the hyped Ravel Morrison in it), Delfouneso, Clark and Albrighton.

    Is Mcliesh the type of manager to thrust young players into the first team???

    Top six finish is optimistic though, considering the competition.

  • Comment number 48.


    Nani cutting in from where exactly? That team would get ripped apart.


    I'd take O Shea and Evans at Villa no problem - I think they're great players.

    Everton can have Brown.

    @38 and 42

    Agree! O'Neill should have played Albrighton a bit sooner. Albrighton on the right, Downing on the left, Bent through the middle - it's not the worst!

    I think top 8 and challenging for the cups would be fine next year.

    Note that I think we should challenge for the cups with our first team.

  • Comment number 49.

    I cannoty understand how either Phil Jones or Henderson have done more than Young. Even Carroll was sold for £35 on the back of a handful of good performance - none of which can be described as mind-blowing. They all got complimentary comments on their move but alot on here are eager to either condemn Young or downplay his achievements. Is there something else at play here?

  • Comment number 50.

    'I'd take O Shea and Evans at Villa no problem - I think they're great players.'

    O'Shea is primarily a full back. He is not a good first choice centre back for any side that has ambitions of being a top 10 PL side. Don't know why you would want him at centre back, when you have the talented Clark as well as Cuellar and Dunne.

    Evans is certainly not a top class player at the moment especially considering his form for the last 12-18 months, although he has the potential to be and is considerably better than O'Shea. But at the moment, he is no better than what Villa have already got. Don't see how he is a improvement at present, especially considering his form, on the likes of Cuellar, Dunne and Clark.

    I like them both as squad players but not all squad players at top clubs are better than first choice players at clubs like Villa.

    Strange, strange indeed.

  • Comment number 51.

    Why is it that when an English player moves to another club, the transfer fee is big?!

    Is Ashley Young worth £17 Million?

  • Comment number 52.

    Although it is exciting to see some good new players, we seem to be missing the point of the Champions League Final defeat. Surely, the big lesson to learn from that was not that we need some new players, but that we need to make a drastic change to the way that we play our football. Tenacity, perseverance and dogged teamwork, with some bits of individual brilliance, made us League Champions, but it led in the end to humiliation. Aren't we still stuck in 1953, still refusing to learn?

  • Comment number 53.


    Remind me of a game where O Shea had a bad game at centre back?

    He is an accomplished full back as well but if he had left United and played regular football at another club it would have been at centre back.

    There are big doubts about Cuellar staying and big doubts over Dunne's fitness. Clark is not necessarily a CB, he can play full back and will probably end up playing as a midfielder as he is so good on the ball. Reminds me of a young Gareth Barry to be honest.

  • Comment number 54.

    Mark Lawrensen's piece was good, if a little repetitive, and most of this one is good too. But I really wish you'd stop trying to sound like you write for the red tops. I mean, what honestly is the point of this part of the article:

    "not just because he has moved on from the battered green Ford Fiesta that was once his ramshackle transport to training."

    I get that you're probably trying to emphasise how things have changed for Young and Cummins since his days at Watford, but it is just so irrelevant I don't see the point of printing it. As BBC's Chief Football Writer you have a great opportunity and position to get the inside scoop and tell us things we don't know. Pointless anecdotes and similes make these blogs sometimes sound tabloid.

  • Comment number 55.

    Re Joan @54. Spot on comments, good shout there.

  • Comment number 56.


    Liverpool and Spurs - I'm more concerned about Everton.

    Spurs are about to loose or let go Modric and Defoe and they will soon learn that their 42yo keeper has an aversion to anything crossed into the box and has zero communication skills on the field.

    Liverpool - believe the hype if you wish.

    Roll on next season - Villa's talented British youngsters (Clark, Bannan, Albrighton, Baker, Delph etc) will blossom next season and the Lions will be on the prowl!!

  • Comment number 57.

    I hope Nani "I can squeal and do 1200 rolly pollys everytime I'm tackled" doesn't teach him any bad habits.

    That would be a tragedy.

  • Comment number 58.

    If AY scores a few goals from set pieces as he is capable of, he will be worth the 17 million paid for him. United has been very poor at set pieces since Ronaldo. Remember Nani at West Ham? Berbatov at Wembley vs Everton?

  • Comment number 59.

    'Remind me of a game where O Shea had a bad game at centre back?'

    A few games in 08/09 when Rio was out (though Jonny Evans stepped in afterwards....the last time Jonny Evans showed top class centre back form).

    When all centre backs are fit, O'Shea has appeared to be on the bottom of the pecking order at United and rightly so. Hence, why I struggle to recall many games where he has played at centre backs, let alone bad games.

    ' if he had left United and played regular football at another club it would have been at centre back.'

    This is based on what? Because he is tall? Parallel universe travelling?

    No conclusive evidence can be made for such a conclusion.

    Ifs and buts sums it up.

    From the moment he broke into the team and until now, there has been nothing conclusive to suggest that he is primarily a centre back, let alone a top class one.

    For you to suggest otherwise, is just strange, considering the lack of reasoning to back it up.

    Clark = Evans > ............O'Shea

    Regardless of ifs and buts over the two, on their day, Dunne and Cuellar are better and more natural centre backs than O'Shea has ever been.

    You should be setting your sights realistically higher than O'Shea, when it comes to finding a centre back of at least Dunne's/Cuellar's level. I am not suggesting someone like Vidic but you can certainly do better than O'Shea and the proof is in what you got already at centre back.

  • Comment number 60.

    Re 57 - Nani doesnt need to teach AY any of that stuff - he already does exactly the same thing!

  • Comment number 61.

    Phil - Not quite sure what the point of this blog is - sure this guy Cummins stood by Ashley Young, but how does that relate to Young's move to United? - unless of course Mr Cummins gets some sort of fee!
    Anyway, Ashley will need to raise his game at OT, he has a good range of skills and seems to have the energy and whenever I have seen him live (mainly at OT) he has looked like he has got something extra. Although I suspect Young will give SAF some different options against the better sides, he can tend to drift in and out of games (perhaps concentration issues?) also I don't think AY's acquisition is enough to replace scholes, so I am looking for another signing in midfield (as well as the Goalkeeper!) before the window closes!

  • Comment number 62.

    No 60, I didn't know that.

    Rolly polly competitions at Carrington next season then.

  • Comment number 63.

    To Joan_Burton (#48)

    Agree with you that the team in #44 would be seriously unbalanced and be in big trouble against a lot of teams.

    But if O'Shea and Evans are that great give us the £17M for Young back and another £5M and you can have them.
    You should also consider the ages (31 and 30) of Brown and O'Shea (and Ferdinand who will probably be missing/rested for a significant number of games this year). Jones will probably be 4th choice behind Vidic, Ferdinand and Smalling and will get a fair few games this coming season to get him used to the team.

    For those questioning the need for a winger. Yes we do need centre midfielders but we do also need a 3rd winger - Nani and Valencia will not play every game and if one gets injured like last year then what do we have in reserve?

    Hopefully a centre-mid or two will be signed in due course. Remember the transfer window doesn't close for another 2 months!

  • Comment number 64.

    I think Ashley Young is alright. Good pace, works hard and whips in a great ball. Always cuts inside though, I would have thought full backs should have figured him out by now.

    And to no 63 - Im a Blackburn fan and saw Jones a lot I reckon he is better than Smalling, I reckon he'll start when Rio inevitably gets injured

  • Comment number 65.

    Very sad to see Ashley leave the Villa but he did a fantastic job for the club. With Milner leaving last year he really shone this season.

    Given the appointment of McLeish, invisibility of Randy Lerner telling us what the ambition of the club is and virtually a whole squad leaving since May, this is a very worrying time for Aston Villa.

    Best of luck to Ashley Young at Man U and proove Alan Green wrong in that you are indeed 'World Class'.

  • Comment number 66.

    Good to have you in the team Ashley. I don't think (hope) it spells the transfer of Nani who is well regarded by his team-mates who voted him club player of the season. Competition is good and for those who haven't seen him play there, Valencia is a decent option at right back or indeed central midfield where he has played to good effect for his country.

    Great dead ball player and can whip a decent early cross, something that Nani at times omits to do. Good for teams where we want to exploit Hernandez, Rooney and Owen's pace. Not to mention the returning Welbeck.

  • Comment number 67.

    "And to no 63 - Im a Blackburn fan and saw Jones a lot I reckon he is better than Smalling, I reckon he'll start when Rio inevitably gets injured"

    Can't agree with that although respect club loyalty. I think Smalling was much the better in the recent U-21s. I also think that Rio is over the worst of his back related injuries. We will see though.

  • Comment number 68.


    John O Shea has played CB for the Republic of Ireland for years and been outstanding in that role.


  • Comment number 69.


    There's nothing Manchester United - or any club in Europe for that matter - can do to close the gap on Barcelona in the near future.

    Nothing other than signing Xavi, Iniesta and Messi that is.

  • Comment number 70.

    An over rated player joining an over rated team. A match made in heaven?

    It's also a big price tag for a player who's never really convinced me, either in terms of skill or in terms of temperament.

    Was anyone shocked about his going to Utd? Hardly. The way the press have been spinning about Young in recent months, and the OTT praise for his recent England performance made sure of a big fee to a 'big' club.

    How predictable.

    A bit like Young himself really.......

  • Comment number 71.

    Good to see he stood by Villa like Cummins eh?! Another frog-hopping Villa player with visions of grandeur. Just like Barry and Milner at Man City and others that have left Villa Park recently, he'll be lucky to hold a spot down at Man Utd. After a season or two of disillusionment he'll end up at an Arsenal or Liverpool who'll pay half the price for him Sir Alex paid. EPL is becoming very boring with the way the Man Utd's, Chelsea's and Man City's are buying every half decent player up. If Villa survive relegation this season, bring on the salary cap in 2 years and then we'll see how you all go!!!

  • Comment number 72.

    If I was SAF, I wouldn't have signed Young but I can see why he did.
    We can never have too many players than run at defenders and Young seems to do that quite a lot.

    I'm really worried about the midfield though. It would be a nightmare to start the season without at least one top midifield signing, unless SAF is going to play an existing player there, i.e. Rooney or Valencia.

    Personally, I'd just love to see Rooney as a creative midfielder as I think that he's made for it. There are very few attacking midfielders who we could sign that would be better than him.
    That would mean that we need another striker though, as I don't think Welbeck is ready yet.
    And the spending goes on and on.

  • Comment number 73.

    'John O Shea has played CB for the Republic of Ireland for years and been outstanding in that role.


    I haven't watched him for Ireland nor do I view international football as the be all and end all

    But hey if he has done the business against the likes of mighty Andorra, Moldovia, etc or whoever they face on the international stage, then he must be a natural top class centre back eh that has led Ireland to many a clean sheets

    Messi, you got nothing on O'Shea at international level apparently.

    Got anymore of these so-called facts?

    I liked how you put it in capital letters as to somehow make it out to be THE fact of facts to end it all. Amusing.

  • Comment number 74.


    It is possible to be an accomplished defender with the ability to play for a top ten premiership side and not be as good as Messi.

    I also invite you to do some research on the teams the Republic of Ireland have faced over John O Shea's career. You will find that there have been stronger tests than Andorra.

    You will also find a lack of fixtures against Moldova.

    You're an idiot.

  • Comment number 75.

    Well i'm slightly relieved and smug that Man Utd have signed 2 overated, mediocre English players this transfer window, whethers my club Liverpool have only been lumbered with the one!

  • Comment number 76.

    70.At 18:49 23rd Jun 2011, Nelly wrote:
    An over rated player joining an over rated team. A match made in heaven?


    Yeah I know an Fergie such an overated manager too...perhaps he never masterminded 12 titles in 19 years. Come clean Alex you hypnotised everyone into thinking United won all those games and accumulated all those points to win all those trophies!

  • Comment number 77.

    Young is a very good player, worth 17 million? maybe not but because he is english and an international then i can understand his price, not sure where he will play but SAF is no mug, sure he has bought some odd signings in his time but what manager hasnt? i just really hope we get at least 2 very good CM as thats the big worry for me, if reports are to be true as well that De Gea wont be coming then i dont know what other goalkeeper will come who is proven and will guarantee the club 20 points or more a season. but still 2 months till the market shuts so never know what SAF has up his sleave!

  • Comment number 78.

    Just like to state for my above post, i dont think De Gea is proven, i havent seen much of him so cant say! But would like to know views on him as a keeper :)

  • Comment number 79.

    Gareth Bale is the perfect replacement for Ryan Giggs and Sir Alex should snap him up!

    Also try Robben, Ribery, Sneijder, Wilshere!

  • Comment number 80.

    A player that United dont need but possibly because he's home grown. In my humble opinion, he's decent and a good prospect but a light-weight, he will bounce off any CB in the PL. AY do have pace and can score outside of the box or a moment of genius. He can provide assists but thats what Valencia and Nani are doing (?). Well United have got him now, so no other PL can. What United need is a class keeper to replace VDS. This is the weakness of United in the coming seasons.

  • Comment number 81.

    Thanks ManU for taking a very average, over rated player off our hands - and £17m to boot! Villa will be on next Crimewatch program for conning money out of a purple nosed pensioner!

    Check out AY's stats against the big sides. He's only ever produced against the poorer sides. Decent defenders can read him like a book and have him in their pockets. IF AY plays against the Villa next season, then we'll know how to defend his corners - put everybody on the opposite corner flag.
    Step up to the plate Marc Albrighton - already a better player than AY, more direct, more pace and a better crosser of the ball, especially on the run. Soon to take AY's place in the England set-up.

  • Comment number 82.

    Must agree, Marc Albrighton is a good prospect. watched him two times this season and he does have pace and vision and a decent crosser, only his first senior season i think(?). I think SAF got AY merely because to send a sign to some of the other wingers/attackers in the squad and he's home-grown. AY s predictable and light-weight. I really can't see him go round any decent CBs in the PL. May be he will do better in Italy?

  • Comment number 83.

    I think Young is a good signing who will improve with Man U.

    The Central Midfield problem could be answered by Charlie Adam, cheaper than Nasri and at the start of Last Season, he was the best CM in the PL, admittedly, his form was poor at the end of the season, but he obviously wanted to leave Blackpool, after the transfer debacle last January.

    The other short term option is Scott Parker!!!

    By the way, not a Man U supporter, don't support anyone really, just like football.

  • Comment number 84.

    Check out AY's stats against the big sides. He's only ever produced against the poorer sides.


    But now he'll be playing FOR the biggest team, not a shoddy bottom half team that, after getting snubbed by anyone half-decent, resorts to stealing it's neighbours manager. A manager with a history of getting teams relegated.

    He's got every chance of flourishing at Old Trafford.

  • Comment number 85.

    Ashley Young would be decent addition to most teams with his ability to stretch defences, create and score goals.

    He is relatively versatile but he does have a tendency to operate in similar positions as Rooney (cutting inside from the left with the ball). Is there a possibility he may 'get in Rooney's way'?

    He'll certainly improve Man Utd's ability on the break.

    Martin O'Neill hailed him as 'world class' after a match winning performance at Goodison Park. Perhaps a slightly hysterical observation from his former manager.

  • Comment number 86.

    No problem with this blog - but why are there THREE other stories on the BBC site about the same transfer?

    EVERYONE in the UK pays the licence fee.

    Not just Man U fans....

  • Comment number 87.

    No problem with this blog - but why are there THREE other stories on the BBC site about the same transfer?

    EVERYONE in the UK pays the licence fee.

    Not just Man U fans....


    To be fair, there are less blogs on this transfer than the Alex Mcliesh of Villas Boas stories got. There's not been exactly a lot happening in football recently so everything will get milked at the moment.

  • Comment number 88.

    To be fair, there are less blogs on this transfer than the Alex Mcliesh of Villas Boas stories got. There's not been exactly a lot happening in football recently so everything will get milked at the moment.


    A blog on the Copa America would be a good shout

  • Comment number 89.

    ' I also invite you to do some research on the teams the Republic of Ireland have faced over John O Shea's career. You will find that there have been stronger tests than Andorra.

    You will also find a lack of fixtures against Moldova.'

    Not everything should be intepreted so literally and in a neanderthal-like naive manner. It was a sensationalistic figure of speech to illustrate the kind of opposition one meets on the international stage as well as a criticism of your use of using the international stage as some sort of be all and end all measure as to how natural and 'top class' (still funny) O'Shea is at centre back.

    'You're an idiot.'

    Amusing and bemusing considering who says this remark.

    Only a simpleton would interpret things so literally.

    So me thinks you should look closer to home, in relation to who is more deserving of such a neanderthal-like jibe


    ''It is possible to be an accomplished defender with the ability to play for a top ten premiership side and not be as good as Messi.''

    You have misinterpreted so so badly my very obvious point, that its not even worth spelling it out for you, considering your other (lack of) intepretation skills in this thread.

    The funny thing is that you got the nerve to call me an idiot.

    'amusing' and 'bemusing' sums up the way your points have come across here such as your notion that O'Shea is a top class centre back. Oh that gave me a good old giggle that one.

  • Comment number 90.

    17 million is too much for a player with only a year left on his contract ( look at Clichy for 7 million)

    Undoubtedly he will shine under SAF but will he bring more to the team than Valencia and Nani already do? 17 million for a back up, but still it might make sense in case of injuries.

    As for Villa they have lost their 'flair' player, something which will not bother the new manager a bit!

    and I agree, lets have more articles on other issues:- womens world cup, copa america and even U-17s have more relevance right now. Or does tha BBC have no more vision and reach then what is happening at Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge?

  • Comment number 91.

    Expect Giggs and Park to play far less next season and Young will alternate with Nani and Valencia and could also play the second striker role. Already a very good player will improve and become a top player with United. Very good signing.

  • Comment number 92.

    At 18:49 23rd Jun 2011, Nelly wrote:
    An over rated player joining an over rated team. A match made in heaven?

    I wonder which team you "support" Nelly. Which incredibly gifted team that has won more PL titles than the Red Devils. I really would like to hear about them. Please tell me. I'm absolutely fascinated!

  • Comment number 93.

    I see the negative comments about Young in the comments above and two years ago I would have agreed with them, but he has improved immensely, particularly in the season just passed. I know statistics aren't everything but he is second only to Fabregas in the number of Premier league assists in the past 2 seasons so he's obviously not as bad as some people seem to think.

    If United finish of the De Gea signing and get a decent central midfielder I would consider that a decent summer.

    A lot of the negativity seems to be childishness from Villa fans, the same way there was childishness among some (by no means the majority) of United fans when Ronaldo left. Young is quality, Villa will miss him, wait and see.

  • Comment number 94.

    @ 92


  • Comment number 95.


    You are the type of person who renders this kind of forum pointless. No doubt you roamed 606 with relish.

    Young never finished lower than 9th with the Villa. So hardly a shoddy bottom half team.

    Even Sir Alex admitted that we might easily have scored five or six against MU last time you came to Villa Park.

    Nobody denies MU are a top side but your arrogant, inaccurate comment does a serious discredit to many of the more sensible MU supporters participating in this debate.

    Villa are bringing forward a new, young mainly British team. Let me remind you that MU are where they are now courtesy not of massive spending power but because Beckham, Scoles, Giggs and the Nevilles (and some I'm sure I'll be reminded of) all came through their youth system at the same time.

    This is the way forward for any team that wants to split the CL cartel. It would ofcourse be easier if the CL teams didn't tap them up to leave before their potential is realised (Smalling, Jones, Carroll, Henderson etc)

  • Comment number 96.



    Liverpool fan I assume? You've forgotten to bang on about the 80's and Rafa's 'net spend'. Don't tell me, 'this time next year you'll be champions'?

  • Comment number 97.

    'Which incredibly gifted team that has won more PL titles than the Red Devils'

    than another poster ripostes with figures combining old league titles, PL titles, CL titles and European Cup titles:


    Odd. Very odd, considering the original point was 'PL titles'.

    Talk about moving the goal posts

  • Comment number 98.

    @95 How was Smalling tapped up? That's right, you have no evidence, do you?

  • Comment number 99.

    @ 94


    Typical Liverpudlian idiot who doesn't or can't read articles properly. Fell straight into it as planned!

  • Comment number 100.

    I don't recall Fulham accusing United of tapping up Smalling but I do recall Birmingham accusing Villa doing it over McLeish...


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