Ashley Young with Sam Homewood

Five things we learn from Young's UTD Podcast

Ashley Young is the latest member of the current Manchester United squad to feature on the UTD Podcast.

In this week's edition of the pod, available on Deezer and other podcast apps now, the Reds’ club captain talks us through his career, from breaking through at Watford to establishing himself in a title-winning side at Old Trafford.

Here are five interesting things we picked up from listening to the show...

FACING REJECTION AT WATFORD

Young was a teenage prodigy at Watford, making his debut for the club aged 18 and helping the Hornets to promotion from the Championship in 2006. You may be surprised, then, to find out the Hertfordshire club initially failed to offer him a full scholarship when he turned 16. “I’d been there since I was 10,” he tells host Sam Homewood. “I knew the club inside and out. For me, it was one of them decisions that I’ve looked back on and said it was the biggest turning point for me.

“It was a tough day but coming out the meeting they said I could stay on part-time. It went through my head to leave but because I’d been there so long, it got to a point where I was like I could change their minds.” Thankfully, he did, going on to make 110 appearances at Vicarage Road before signing for Aston Villa in 2007.

Ashley Young playing for Watford
Young helped Watford to the Premier League in 2006.

THE PROCESS OF SWITCHING POSITIONS

At Villa, and in the early stages of his time at United, Young was renowned as a flying winger. In recent years, however, he has tended to be deployed as a full-back, firstly by Louis van Gaal, then Jose Mourinho and now Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The 34-year-old relishes the challenge of playing in various positions and believes versatility shows footballing intelligence.

“So many different managers play different formations and rotate players,“ he says. ”You’ve got to be able to do it. If you understand the game, you read the game, you’ve got to be able to play in numerous positions and I’ve been able to do that.”

FITTING IN AT OLD TRAFFORD

Although Ashley is now one of the elder statesmen at Old Trafford, when he first completed his move from the West Midlands in 2011, he arrived into a dressing room which featured the likes of Ryan Giggs, Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney – all legends of the club. The challenge of establishing himself at United didn’t faze him one bit, however, and he was made to feel welcome from minute one.

“There were some big names in that squad and it was obviously whether you could deal with it,” explains Young. “To talk to players, you’re coming in new, you want to find out about the club and learn the history. Every single one of them players were offering advice and I don’t think I was ever in awe. You’d been signed by the club for a reason, go and do the job you’d been signed for.”

UTD Podcast: When Scholesy returnedVideo

STEALING SCHOLESY’S SHIRT

Young took the no.18 shirt at United, which had been vacated by the recently-retired Paul Scholes. However, the legendary midfielder's return in January 2012 left him in something of an awkward position.

“I was like: ‘oh he’s back, maybe he wants his number back!’ I did offer it, but in the end, he didn’t say anything, the gaffer didn’t say anything, so I kept it,” Young recalls. “It was Scholesy’s number. At the time when I came in, a lot of people were talking about what he’d done in that shirt. Of course I knew that, he was unbelievable – words can’t even describe what he achieved.”

WHAT REALLY HAPPENED WITH THE BIRD...

Ashley went viral in August 2014, when, during a match against Swansea at Old Trafford, a bird appeared to relieve itself into his open mouth. Disgusting, but thankfully not true, according to the 34-year-old, a claim backed up by our MUTV producer who has reviewed the footage frame by frame...

“It didn’t happen!“ laughs Young. ”I’ve said this for God knows how long. It got to a point where I thought I need to do an interview to say that this didn’t happen, but I just couldn’t be bothered. It had gone viral, it’s still going viral I think now. Even my wife and kids say a bird pooed in your mouth, but no it didn’t!”

Listen to all this and more on the latest edition of UTD Podcast, available on Deezer and all of your favourite podcast apps.

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