How Ashley Young stayed young at Manchester United: Jose Mourinho's model pro has held off four signings worth £73m to hold down unlikely role as left back (and World Cup beckons)

Think of the two managers who decided that Ashley Young's days at the very top were over — David Moyes and Roy Hodgson. If we're reviewing the case files, you would deem any conviction returned by that pair as unsafe.

Moyes thought Young was no longer good enough for Manchester United and tried to offload him in the January of his sole season in charge. At the same time, Hodgson cut him from the England squad.

Four years on, Young is playing for Manchester United and England. Moyes and Hodgson, as it transpired, got a lot of things wrong, their opinion of Young chief among them.

Ashley Young scored twice for Manchester United as they beat Watford 4-2 on Tuesday

Ashley Young scored twice for Manchester United as they beat Watford 4-2 on Tuesday

Young has done his hopes of earning a new United contract no harm with his recent form

It is Young who Jose Mourinho trusts above all else, with the player starring this season?

It is Young who Jose Mourinho trusts above all else, with the player starring this season?

ASHLEY YOUNG STATS?

Appearances: 10

Goals: 2

Assists: 2

Interceptions: 20

Dribbles completed: 16?

Premier League stats only ?

Credit, of course, must go to Louis van Gaal, the man who replaced Moyes and took Young to one side during a training camp in Los Angeles to tell him he had a future at the club. Young had feared the hand on the shoulder would lead him to the door.?

Not so. The Dutchman converted the winger into a left-wing back and that, in turn, has led to where he is now — United's first-choice left back.

But most of all, credit must go to Young himself.?

Consider this, the club have spent £72.5million on trying to replace club legend Patrice Evra in the past three years — Luke Shaw (£30m), Marcos Rojo (£16m), Matteo Darmian (£12.7m) and Daley Blind (£13.8m).?

It is Young, however, who Jose Mourinho trusts above all else. It is said that the United manager considers him an exemplary professional, evidenced by him captaining the side earlier this season.?

He rejected several deadline-day offers for the 32-year-old and told the player he wanted to find a way to include him in his plans, despite him featuring in just 14 Premier League games last season. Young accepted the challenge of justifying Mourinho's faith.

David Moyes thought Young was no longer good enough for United and tried to offload him

David Moyes thought Young was no longer good enough for United and tried to offload him

At the same time, Hodgson cut him from the England squad - but he is back in the set-up?

At the same time, Hodgson cut him from the England squad - but he is back in the set-up?

Credit must go to Louis van Gaal, who replaced Moyes and kept Young at Old Trafford?

Credit must go to Louis van Gaal, who replaced Moyes and kept Young at Old Trafford?

YOUNG'S CAREER?

2003–2007 Watford?

2007–2011 Aston Villa?

2011– Manchester United?

?

2007– England 31 caps (7 goals)

He is a popular presence around Carrington. Sources say he has the confidence to take the Mickey out of senior staff, yet never crosses a line into arrogance or disrespect.

Those junior to Young see him as a source of guidance, not least because of the manner in which he was written off by the managers of both his club and his country, only to respond with performances on the pitch.

To find the root of that inner-drive, we take you back to his school days at John Henry Newman in Stevenage, where he shared a class with Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton.?

Aged 16, Young sat down with the school's careers adviser. He was soon back on his feet and heading for the door when she refused to take seriously his assertion that he would be a professional footballer.

Young poses for a picture with United icon Patrice Evra - he now plays in his left-back position?

Young poses for a picture with United icon Patrice Evra - he now plays in his left-back position?

United signed left-back Luke Shaw (left) but Young is above him in Mourinho's pecking order

United signed left-back Luke Shaw (left) but Young is above him in Mourinho's pecking order

Matteo Darmian (R) and Daley Blind (L) have also failed to make the left-back role their own

Matteo Darmian (R) and Daley Blind (L) have also failed to make the left-back role their own

It looked like the careers adviser was right when Young was subsequently told he would not be offered a YTS scholarship at Watford. What did he do? He asked to stay on and train — unpaid — on a part-time basis.

Within a year he had a professional contract, five years later he was Aston Villa's club-record signing at £10m, that fee doubling by the time he joined United aged 25.

On Tuesday night, back at Watford, he made his 101st Premier League start for the club. It had been Room 101 under Moyes. By half-time he had scored twice. His second, a whipped free-kick from 30 yards, left Mourinho stunned.

Stunning, however, is probably the best way to describe Young's impact of late. It was he, of course, who also forced Lewis Dunk's own goal during Saturday's 1-0 win over Brighton.

The 32-year-old, pictured with Anthony Joshua, has bounced back from his setbacks in style

The 32-year-old, pictured with Anthony Joshua, has bounced back from his setbacks in style

He is a popular presence around Carrington and regularly poses for selfies with team-mates

He is a popular presence around Carrington and regularly poses for selfies with team-mates

He is back in the England set-up and came on as a substitute against Brazil. Young says he wants to be in the team, not just the squad. On current form that is a fair ambition.

His versatility will be invaluable to Gareth Southgate, for Young even started a United match at right back earlier this season.?

But there is also merit in picking him for the example he sets to a young international group. He was the oldest member of the recent squad, a full decade on from his Three Lions debut.

He has seen a lot for club and country in that time. He has also seen off all of those who dared to doubt him.?

Young, pictured in Instagram snap, will be hoping to go to the World Cup with England
He poses while on holiday

Young, pictured in Instagram snaps, will be hoping to go to the World Cup with England?

He shows his funny side by using a Snapchat filter
Poses for another holiday selfie

He shows his funny side by using a Snapchat filter (L) and poses for another holiday selfie (R)

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