Red Thoughts: Is Ashley Young is the ideal left back solution? Should Anthony Martial or Marcus Rashford start?

by Red Debate

The Red Thoughts team are looking at United’s left side this week and discuss the options for United’s left back and left wing positions in light of the Everton and Burton Albion games.

JIM: Young is the ideal squad player. He fills in wherever he’s needed and always gives 100%. I don’t get why people want to sell him.

CARL: ​ Well Young has rarely ever played in recent seasons. I’ve never had an issue with him ability-wise, but I have questioned whether he was worth keeping on the books for £110k a week if he isn’t going to get used. If Jose is going to use him, then great. He’s certainly been useful this week.

JIM: I see your point, but at the end of the day his wages are pocket change for a club like United and he always plays well when he is used. I’d love to see him used more frequently in that LB role.

CARL: I think he will do so long as he doesn’t get injured. He’s quite prone to an injury or two too.

BETS: Mourinho is playing much more attacking line ups in the “easier” games than last season, with 4-2-3-1 and more attacking full backs. Young is perfect in that situation. I think he’ll bring back the likes of Darmian for tougher games where he needs more defensive smarts. But where does this leave Blind? Not fancied at CB, not fancied at LB, not even seen at CDM …

CARL: This leaves Blind still in line for a lot of starts as an alternate to the likes of Young and hopefully Shaw. It changes nothing for Blind that Young is back on the scene, Blind does his part when he plays at LB. Young is just another option. Young wasn’t even that great against Everton, it was merely an OK performance, so don’t be concerned that he’s been too good for us not to give Blind any matches. All of our wing players have things they aren’t so good at, but the key to us being most effective from wide areas so far this season is the depth of options we have. Jose is utilising the depth well to give us options of fresh legs at different stages – so far that has shown to have worked to our advantage a number of times.

BETS: The issue for me is that Young, with only 90 minutes under his belt after a long layoff, got the nod over Blind in an attacking set up at home, which looked like the role Blind had been earmarked to play. Why not play Blind vs Everton, then give Young another run against Burton? It tells me he’s more faith in Young than in Blind.

CARL: I’m not convinced. He’s rotating the squad and making tactically considered selections per match. I have a very strong feeling he’ll stick with Lindelof and Smalling at CB for the Moscow match, but it doesn’t mean he now prefers them over Jones and Bailly. Blind has created a couple of goals from LB this season and is nearly always dependable in a defensive sense. You’ll be seeing plenty of Blind at LB this season yet, trust me.

EHSAAN: I feel like Young can be first choice if he keeps in playing like this. It might be a long time before Shaw is fully back and running in the first team. With Young and Valencia we threaten on both sides. Both are the best crossers in our team. Exciting stuff!

DAN: For me, Young is a great player – another who just gets the club and always gives you 100%. He always looks in good physical condition. For me though, I think he lacks a little defensively. He was certainly picked on a little bit by Everton, but he has more pace than Blind and Darmain, who are more defensively sound. For me, we need to keep up Shaw’s rehabilitation from injury and get the confidence back flowing in him. But until then, the best option depends on the opposition.

REX: Young has always been a great utility player. Gives his all no matter where he’s asked to play. You need 1 or 2 of those in a team. Blind is the other one in the team. So is Young the solution to LB? No. Luke Shaw is. Is he a good stop gap for certain games at certain times? Absolutely. But given the choice between Blind and Young at LB, I’d take Young all day because of his ability on the ball and pace to both go forward and recover when out of position. He has a mean cross on him too!

RICK: Ashley Young has been a solid squad player who is extremely versatile and one that Jose still has plans for, so I don’t see him going anytime soon. He was solid, as he always is. I wouldn’t get too carried away, though, as against better opposition he will get exposed as he’s not naturally a defender. But he always fights for the team and gives his best.

DEAN: And what about left wing? What do you think … Martial or Rashford?

BETS: Rashford’s performance against Everton was the worst game I’ve seen from him in a United shirt. He didn’t look happy from start to finish. He was much better playing down the middle against Burton. But I want to see Martial starting more games. I have huge faith in him and I truly believe if he can get his head right, we have a potential European Player of the Year.

CARL: There’s no debate on Martial vs. Rashford to consider. They both play their parts in what has been a lethal impact rotation on that left-side. I love Martial and think he’s something special, but I’m impressed with the strides Rashford has been making to improve himself as a more fully-rounded player.

DAN: Yet again, Rashford is subbed against Everton and Martial comes on and scores. I’m loving this little competition they have and they are pushing each other to up their game. I can’t wait to see, and hope we do see, Rashford, Lukaku and Martial on the pitch at the same time.

REX: If you combine their individual abilities, you’d have the perfect winger!! Rashford had a mare against Everton. When Lingard comes on and outshines you, there’s a problem. But he’s entitled to a bad game now and then. So I don’t think it warrants him being dropped.

CARL:​​ Rashford played his part. He played the 70 minutes beforehand that enabled Lingard to come on against a tiring Everton side and shine, same as when Martial has come on and the same when Martial starts and Rashford comes on. The genius of Mourinho’s tactics this season is the X factor here and why we’re scoring so many late goals. Instead of sitting back late in games this season, Jose has seen the benefits of pressing up on the opposition and having such depth that he can bring energetic wing players on to replace energetic wing players. Mourinho will always figure out a way to beat every system in the end and the manner in which he tactically exposed that 3 at the back system on Sunday is exactly why we came out of the game with a flattering 4-0 result without it being a 4-0 worthy performance.

REX: I think a lot of people are always looking at domination. To beat a team, in a lot of people’s minds, is to dominate everything – outplay, outdo everything the other team does. But after our recent experiences over the last 4 years or so, people need to accept that all that stuff doesn’t matter. In how many games under LVG would we trade the dominance in possession for wins? Last season as well. In every one of those home draws we absolutely dominated last year, if we’d won 4-0 playing like we did against Everton, I’m sure we would have all taken it. A lot of people are hung up on the ‘Man United way’ which is fine, but the Man United way is winning. In style if you can, but win!

RICK: As for Martial over Rashford, I agree that Martial should get some more starts, however, they both have started a comparable amount of games and are both fighting for the same spot. With two games each week, I feel Jose won’t start either of them in both games but will continue to rotate to keep them both fresh. But there is no denying, Martial is the more talented footballer, he just needs to work on his end product. He does some amazing things but then what happens at the end lets him down or he just doesn’t do it enough. I’ll give you an example which occurred recently. I saw a clip online where he totally rinses Diouf to the point where he falls on his ass, it was amazing, but that’s where the clip ends, and do you know why? Because after beating Diouf and sitting him down, he crosses the ball a mile over all our attackers in the box and thus wastes all his hard work.

BETS: It was great to see Rashford play so well again against Burton, but Martial was doing things with the ball I don’t think I’ve ever seen in my life. Can he do that against better opposition? Because if he can do what he did yesterday, he could walk into any side in the world. It was just amazing. I dont think he’s going to start on Saturday otherwise he’d have been pulled off earlier, but surely it has to come soon?

CARL: I’ve heard the argument that Martial isn’t a 90 minute player. A load of nonsense if you ask me. I’ve always been very defensive about Martial, he’s just an incredible talent and one of my favourite players of the current crop. There’s not much I go against Mourinho on, but I’ve always maintained that if Martial is sold he’d be making a big mistake and I’d be really unhappy about it. I said at the start of the season, I think he’ll prove all the doubters wrong this season and hopefully will get back to his best, well, so far so good.

EHSAAN: Martial and Rashford were both fantastic against Burton. Martial was insanely good with the ball. Rashford showed his killer instinct, which is exactly why he should be a striker. That second goal after the turn was beautiful. And Martial might not have scored as much as Rashford, but he was still brilliant. His spins, pirouettes, turns and dribbling were all insane. I’ve always thought that he’s best when playing as a flexible winger, as he gets to display his quick feet. I can’t really decide between the two, I think they should be rotated regularly, but it would be really nice if they played together more often, as they have good chemistry when they play together, as we saw on Wednesday.

RICK: I think Martial and Rashford could fit in the same side if either could play as a RW. I mean, come on, that would be insane. Martial has always had the talent but it’s all about consistency and end product and Jose has been waiting for him to do it more consistently. Jose has not made him no 1 choice as a LW because he has needed to develop more, plus Rashford needs the game time to develop, so he’s killing two birds with one stone by rotating them both there. But the more Martial improves on his end product, the more starts he’ll get.

CARL: His problems last season were psychological, brought on by early distractions that affected him before the season even kicked off. He was always going to come back from it, he’s an amazing talent. Mourinho has his own tough love methods when dealing with talented youngsters and it can take time to get the message across.

REX: Both were excellent against Burton. It will give them both a huge confidence boost, especially Rashford, who looked jaded on Sunday. I still don’t know how they’d do against top teams, but a winning streak while scoring as well won’t do them any harm.

One thing I’ve noticed is they are better when they have more space. Early on, Martial wasn’t so much in the picture but once we scored, especially after the second, he was on fire. So the early goals we’ve been scoring lately also help them a lot, as the other teams have to play out to get an equaliser. So let’s see how they do when they face a really well organized team that doesn’t let in an early goal. Because of Lukaku, sadly they both have to get used to that left flank. And when Zlatan comes back, they will both fall further down the striking pecking order. It’s a shame, as I think Rashford especially is way better down the middle than on the flanks.

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