LETTING Luke Young go is a disaster. Cashing in on fringe players is one thing but selling your best performers – and let’s be emphatic about this, Luke Young was the best perfromer last season – is a high-risk strategy that sends out chilling messages to supporters, to the rest of the dressing room and to other clubs.
To the fans it screams a lack of ambition, that we have become a selling club that sees transfer dealings as purely financial arrangement srather than long term structural investments and even hints that we are edging back towards being a selling club. To the other players, especially the more ambitious players, it suggests that any hopes of winning things may have to be played out elsewhere and that their own futures are far from secure if good offers are likely to be accepted. And to other clubs it is a green light to move in with predatory bids for the players that had previously been thought to be cast iron first team fixtures. If Luke Young is available, for whatever reason, then why not Stewy Downing?
Young is a brilliant player, a solid defender with a cool head and a potent attacking force. He has energy, good control, excellent distribution and is strong in the tackle. It is incredible he hasn’t been a regular in the England team – he is better than Wes Brown – and surely only the fact that he is not playing for a bigger side is keeping him out. Indded, that may well be a factor in his own thinking.
Coming the week before the season starts it is doubly worrying. It is a political and startegic disaster. Had it come early in pre-season it could be factored in. Now, it leaves a club who already have a questionmark over the key position of keeper – there is literally no number one – suddenly without its most stabilising, consistent, injury-free and experienced performer. Unless there is an ace up Southgate’s sleeve the unmistakeable air of pre-season optimism will be replaced with an air of endemic panic.
Southgate had already taken a massive gamble with his stance on the keeping position. In letting such an important player leave on the eve of the season has doubled the stakes.