Belfast Telegraph

Alex Ferguson: Patrice Evra was key to Young's class

Sir Alex Ferguson has credited Patrice Evra for being the unsung hero behind Ashley Young's sensational introduction to life as a player at Manchester United.

An £18million summer purchase from Aston Villa, Young has enjoyed a blistering start to his Old Trafford career, scoring two excellent goals against Arsenal a fortnight ago, to cap a succession of outstanding performances.

Young's knowledge of Wayne Rooney's game from their time together with England has been cited as the reason why his transition has been so smooth.

Ferguson has spotted something different.

He believes Evra's attack-minded approach to his full-back role has allowed Young more space to display his obvious talents.

"Some players come to a club like ours and find it difficult to settle in but Ashley has done exceptionally well," said the United boss.

"He is versatile and has a good understanding of the game.

"He is getting great support from Evra (pictured) on the left-hand side.

"The great experience Patrice brings is very important for a player coming to our club."

United first spotted Young's talent many years ago.

However, Ferguson concedes the 26-year-old is a different player now to the one he kept an eye on back then.

"We tried to get him when he was at Watford but were just a bit late," he said.

"He has matured at Aston Villa and his form last season was fantastic considering they had a difficult year.

"Since he has come to us, he has taken the challenge very well."

Goalkeeper David de Gea has not found it quite so easy, and at Bolton today, the Spanish stopper can look forward to another searching examination of his abilities.

That the 20-year-old has talent is beyond question but adapting to the more physical nature of the Premier League may take time, particularly for a player who looks like he could do with putting on a few pounds.

He was buffeted around pretty badly at West Brom on the opening weekend and the fear is of something similar being meted out by Kevin Davies.

Not that Ferguson is concerned, especially if referee Andre Marriner does his job properly.

"There is nothing wrong with that," said Ferguson of the pressure De Gea is likely to come under. "That is part of the challenge.

"Each game that comes along is a new experience for him.

"He actually did very well at West Brom in the sense of dealing with it but he didn't get the protection from the referee at the time.

"We expect him to get better protection than that."

United's healthy position after their 100% start to the campaign, culminating with the eight-goal destruction of Arsenal that sent them top of the Premier League, can be seen in the options Ferguson has available.

In-form Danny Welbeck will return to training next week after the hamstring injury he suffered against the Gunners with Javier Hernandez ready to replace the 20-year-old.

At the back, what once would have been the worrying absence of skipper Nemanja Vidic is now a mere inconvenience to a defence from which Rio Ferdinand is again set to be absent due to Ferguson's selection, rather than any injury concerns.

Instead, Phil Jones, Jonny Evans and England's new right-back Chris Smalling are set to be retained.

"It is a difficult one," admitted Ferguson.

"None of that back four deserve to be left out.

"That is the great thing about football. You pick yourself with your performances, like they have been doing, and I don't anticipate any real changes tomorrow."

It is exactly the problem Ferguson hoped for when he reshaped his squad in the summer, in the process losing the experience of four thirty-somethings, following on from Gary Neville's retirement in February.

"It was the way we hoped to go," said the Scot.

"They have done exceptionally well in their first few matches but it is early season.

"We have a long way to go and there are difficult games ahead. That is the kind of league we are in.

"The experience of handling these situations has been important to us over the years and it will apply itself again this season."

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