One of Sir Alex Ferguson’s most famous analogies took the form of a tale about geese.
Whenever they flew above Carrington he pointed to the sky, stopped training, and said: “These geese fly 5000 miles from Canada to France. They fly in V-formation but the second ones don’t fly. They’re the subs for the first ones. And then the second ones takeover- so it’s teamwork.”
It had been four long years since Young last played for England, but earlier this month Gareth Southgate called the United winger back to the squad.
The timing is not a surprise. Since Ferguson’s retirement, Young found himself in and out of the team, recovering from a severe groin injury which prevented him from playing between January and April 2016.
With Manchester United’s lack of a first choice left-back Young has grasped the opportunity to perform in the role, and against Brighton and Hove Albion, he proved why a contract extension may not be a bad idea at all.
It’s quite incredible that United’s 2011 wingers, Antonio Valencia and Young, now provide their experience at right and left back respectively.
The ability to adapt and put the team first is a testament to their professionalism, with neither often grabbing the headlines. And they know that.
You’ve got Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, and Romelu Lukaku on the pitch, creating the problems for opposition defences, yet when the attacking players don’t deliver you need somebody else to provide that moment of magic.
Now although Young’s goal may have been the luckiest that you will see in the Premier League all season, his ability to understand where to position himself when the ball fell loosely was the reason why he deserved a bit of fortune.
Throughout the first half, Anthony Knockaert tortured the English international down the left-side, crisscrossing him with trickery and bursts of acceleration which nearly led to Lewis Dunk and Pascal Groß opening the scoring for Brighton at the Stretford End.
With a particular mind-set certain players can overcome that difficulty as the match wears on, and perhaps it wasn’t a surprise that Young did that. Even after he had scored with that deflected effort the former Watford and Aston Villa starlet knew that sharpness and decisiveness were key to hanging on to the three points.
Whether Young will continue to be United’s future left back remains to be seen, but a winger who has adapted himself to a left back to suit the side is 14th in the all-time assist record and has 60 PL goals to his name.
Football is a team game. Squad depth and the willingness to put others first is paramount to success. Just ask those 5000 geese.