Writer: Mike Field
Date:Friday October 10 2008
Martin O'Neill has said he is pleased that teams are realising more and more that they need to double mark Ashley Young.
Although he realises this is probably frustrating for Young, he believes it's necessary for his progression that he learns how to deal with this and think his way out of trouble to continue posing the threat he can do.
We all know Young has huge potential and could be one of the finest English wingers ever, but if he hopes to achieve that then he does need to learn how to cope with being double marked, and at points probably having 3 players covering him.
Whether that's by honing his skills and becoming more tricky to take them on, or whether it's by using his brain and exploiting the space they leave.
I would think this season Young has shown that he's prepared to be more of a team player, rather than just taking people on and losing the ball. He seems to have realised he won't always beat his man so sometimes playing the simple ball and helping to keep possession can be more rewarding and more beneficial for the team.
To be fair this was something he started doing more and more at the end of last season as teams began double marking him, so I'd assume O'Neill is very pleased with his growth as a player, especially as he now picks and chooses his moments to show some magic and most of the time because of making the right decision to show that magic it comes off, looks wonderful and it works.
Much better than trying it everytime he gets the ball, and more often than not, losing possession.
'Ashley is receiving extra attention. That is a major compliment to him and it is about coping with those things and he has got a really good footballing brain.
'He is going to have to adjust. He is going to have to play the ball sometimes to unmarked team-mates - if only to find the space to then get the ball back again himself.
'I think at some stage, there will be things in the game that do frustrate you, and Ashley has to overcome that and he is making a fair fist of that for one so young.
'I've been really lucky with some of the people I've worked with. In my early days at Wycombe, I had Steve Guppy who could deliver a fantastic ball and I then took him to Leicester.
'I had Alan Thompson at Celtic who could put it anywhere you want it, on a sixpence, and he scored some great goals.
'But Ashley is also just brilliant. When he got the free-kick in the last game at Villa Park against Sunderland, you just felt he could score.'
As Young grows and matures further he really is gaining that aura of once he gets the ball, you expect something to happen. Very few players ever get that belief from the fans. Most spend their whole careers with fans thinking 'something might happen' now and that's usually based on the situation or their position.
With Young, it doesn't matter where he is on the pitch. He has the pace, trickery and skill to go on a 60-70 yard run and create an opening.
Having a player like that in the team, a player who can create a goal with their only clear cut opportunity in 90 minutes is dynamite.
Date:Friday October 10 2008
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