Ashley Young, remember him? He was England’s best player for the last year and a half leading into Euro 2012. So why there are calls from fans for the winger to be dumped from England’s starting line-up against Ukraine because he played poorly against Sweden.
Whilst there’s no denying that Young had a poor game last night people are forgetting that it takes a very good performance from a defender to stop such an attacking-minded player from wreaking havoc down the flanks.
Sweden's right-back Andreas Granqvist and his replacement Mikael Lustig played extremely well last night, denuing Young the slightest space or freedom needed for the winger to cause Sweden problems, to such an extent that the former Aston Villa man disappeared in the second-half.
Granqvist who had a poor season and a half in the Premier League with Wigan Athletic getting a lot of credit for his performance. Yes it’s understandable that members of the media and fickle English fans would overlook this and criticise Young for not being at his best, but sometimes you have to admit the defender was the better man.
Young though shouldn’t be dropped for England’s final Euro 2012 group game against Ukraine. One bad game doesn’t make you a bad player and it’s not as if in both of England’s games so far that they have had a lot of time on the ball allowing Young the chance to get on the ball and hurt teams.
Against France he was played up-top behind Danny Welbeck. The French controlled the ball in the heart of midfield which forced the team to drop deep which meant that when England did have the ball, neither Young nor Welbeck really had the support to help their attacks.
Who was it that set up James Milner’s chance against France? Who was it that brought out the best in Andy Carroll against Norway? Who was it who set up Welbeck’s winner against Belgium?
All of these answers of course are Ashley Young. With Ukraine defensively looking poor yesterday against France, never mind the fact Sweden failed to punish them last Monday, England needs to have it’s best attackers on the pitch to go out and beat the co-hosts in their own background.
Yes fans can say that Wayne Rooney coming back into the team will strengthen the side and that may mean that after Theo Walcott’s performance yesterday that James Milner could switch to the left with Young dropping to the bench. However Young has a great understanding with Rooney and that cannot be ignored.
Milner should be the former Aston Villa midfielder looking over his shoulder who should be dropped to the bench against Ukraine to accommodate for Walcott starting. He hasn’t become a bad player over night but he just doesn’t look quick enough to trouble teams where it hurts and has looked very much out of shape so far. Then again there’s always room for improvement.
By Adam Dennehey @ADennehey87