Adaptability Key in Louis van Gaal's Decision to Stick with Ashley Young

Rob DawsonManchester United CorrespondentAugust 17, 2014

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - AUGUST 04:  Ashley Young #18 of Manchester United in action against Liverpool in the Guinness International Champions Cup 2014 Final at Sun Life Stadium on August 4, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Louis van Gaal has taken the time to get to know his players.

It's almost become an annoyance to some Manchester United fans who think his in-depth assessments have got in the way of bringing new players to Old Trafford.

One player who has benefited from Van Gaal's patient approach is Ashley Young

He looked like he might be on his way out at the end of last season. Instead, he started pre-season games against Real Madrid, Liverpool, Valencia and then the opening game of the league season against Swansea City.

Young has benefited from his ability to adapt. He made his name at Watford and Aston Villa as a winger. He's played for England in that position, too.

ANN ARBOR, MI - AUGUST 2: Dani Carvajal #15 of Real Madrid tries to steal the ball from Ashley Young #18 of Manchester United during the first half of the Guinness International Champions Cup at Michigan Stadium on August 2, 2014, in Ann Arbor, Mich (Phot
Duane Burleson/Getty Images

But there's no place for wingers in the 5-3-2 system Van Gaal used during the summer. 

And while that might eventually cost Nani and Wilfried Zaha their places in the squad, Young has shown he can still fit in.

There are no question marks over Antonio Valencia's future at Old Trafford because Van Gaal sees someone who could play as a right-back, right wing-back or right midfielder. 

There's a place for him in any system the Dutchman can think of. Young is doing his best to show the same is true of him.

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - AUGUST 04:  Jordan Henderson #14 of Liverpool is challenged by  Ashley Young #18 of Manchester United in the Guinness International Champions Cup 2014 Final at Sun Life Stadium on August 4, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Ch
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Adaptability and versatility are important qualities for any player who finds himself under Van Gaal's guidance.

The Dutchman started with a back three against Swansea. But when United came out for the second half, they were set up with a back four, four midfielders and Juan Mata behind Wayne Rooney.

Adnan Januzaj came on for Jesse Lingard in the first half and played as a right wing-back. In the second half, he was used as a winger.

Phil Jones started in the back three but ended the game at right-back. Young started as a left wing-back but was moved to left-back at half-time.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 16:  Wayne Rooney of Manchester United looks on with team-mate Ashley Young (L) during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Swansea City at Old Trafford on August 16, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (P
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Like many of United's players on Saturday, Young didn't have his best game. But he was willing to adapt to different situations in the game.

And that's important to a manager like Van Gaal, who likes to influence games from the touchline with subtle tactical tweaks.

Young isn't a favourite among United fans—you need only look at his Twitter interactions to see that.

But he has made an impression on Van Gaal. And that should guarantee him a place in the United squad for a season at least.