Young has strength to cope with life at United

Updated: 2011-08-09 08:40

(China Daily)

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LONDON - Ashley Young insists he won't be fazed by the pressure of being a central figure in Sir Alex Ferguson's rebuilding plans at Manchester United.

Ferguson paid 16 million ($26 million) to prise Young from Aston Villa during the close-season after targeting the England winger as a key component of his overhaul at Old Trafford.

With Paul Scholes retired, Ryan Giggs now mostly used as a central midfielder in the twilight of his career and Dimitar Berbatov a constant source of frustration, Ferguson needs a player like Young who can play wide, drift infield and also shine in the link role behind a frontman.

Ferguson was able to rely on Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez to provide a potent cutting edge as United swept to a record 19th English title last season, but the supply lines from midfield were often unproductive, especially away from home, and that is where Young comes in.

The 26-year-old was already a proven Premier League performer with Villa, but Young raised his game to another level last season with some intelligent and at times devastating displays for England.

Even when Young was surprisingly dropped by England coach Fabio Capello for a Euro 2012 qualifier against Switzerland in June, his reaction underlined his maturity.

He came off the bench at halftime with England trailing and scored the equalizer before creating several more squandered opportunities.

That is exactly the kind of decisive intervention under extreme pressure that should stand Young in good stead as he starts his new life at a club where even two successive draws can be regarded as a mini-crisis.

Young appears to have blended in seamlessly judging by his influential performance for United in its Community Shield win over Manchester City and he can't wait for the real thing to start against West Bromwich Albion on Aug 14.

"No disrespect to the Villa boys, but as soon as I heard of Manchester United's interest, I just wanted to get the deal done and start training," Young said.

"The manager bought me for a reason, to get assists and goals and work hard for the team. If I can do that every time I am selected, my job is done.

"I can play left, right, off the front striker or as a main striker, so I just have to concentrate on my own game and wherever I am picked, do myself justice."

Controlled aggression is a vital ingredient of United's style and although it rarely comes naturally for wingers, Young has needed a combative edge from the moment he started his professional career.

Young was a raw teenager still finding his way in the game when he jogged on to Vicarage Road pitch ahead of his debut for Watford in 2003.

So it would have been forgivable if his confidence had been completely shattered when he was approached during the warm-up by Millwall's Australian hard-man Kevin Muscat, who delivered a sinister threat intended to intimidate a novice like Young.

"Some players get nervous even now. I'm just one of those who doesn't," Young said.

"When I made my debut for Watford was the only time. Kevin Muscat said he would break my legs if I went past him, but the nerves just left me and I concentrated on playing well."

His composure quickly recoverd, Young was sent on as a second-half substitute and scored a crucial goal to help his side win 3-1. His career has been defined by such level-headed play ever since.

"I've always had confidence in myself and believed that I could play at the highest level," Young said.

"Some people said I couldn't, but they also said I couldn't play for England.

"That doesn't bother me, though. I've got confidence in myself to know that I can do it."

Agence France-Presse