Between the comments left on the open threads during Aston Villa matches, the tweets that flare up after Ashley Young steps up to take a corner kick, and the little voices inside our own heads, most of us know that AVFC fans are not big proponents of Young the Greater being the designated man for set pieces. His corners often don't even clear the first man, and his free kicks rarely make it through the opposing defense. But for the most part, his penalties are spot on. There have been arguments as to whether he was out-mind-gamed by Jussi Jääskeläinen at the weekend, but it was a typical Ash penalty, head down, shooting toward his right. Sometimes they don't go in. That's the laws of statistics there, chums.
While some have questioned Ash's work rate, I don't think that's something that we really need to be concerned about. Instead, what seems to motivate him is direct competition, someone that will take away a bit of the glory and shine from the Villa star. Now that he's missed a penalty, it's been suggested that Darren Bent will step up to the spot. Here's Young's reaction:
"Let's see how kind I'm feeling when the next one comes along. I'll see if I let him take it or not."
I really kind of love this statement. I thought at first it was the mark of an arrogant bastard, but now I'm thinking it's Ash stating that he is going to bury that next penalty kick. Why should he give it up? Captain Young has a point to prove and damn it, he's going to do so. That armband is a point of pride for Ash. So are the set pieces, so is playing behind the striker, so is taking those penalty kicks.
While it can certainly be debated whether Young's pride and arrogance are hurting the team in terms of corners and free kicks, clamoring for him to give the next penalty to Bent is slightly ridiculous. The best of the best miss the target, the keepers guess right, it's really more about luck of the draw. Ash will sink the next one. After that, he might concede to Bent, but he's gotta take the next to overcome this tiny blip.