After years of mediocrity, Ashley Young last year put in the bare minimum amount of effort to stand out against a sea of mediocrity and poor team performances. He finally played like his career meant something to him, and in a sense it did - he was soon to enter the final year of his contract, and the prospect of unemployment or reduced wages elsewhere was clearly the motivation he needed.
After a relatively bright start in his first season at Manchester United, it soon became apparent that Young was going to fit into the tombola of the average performers that Alex Ferguson would pick a few from each week: Darren Fletcher, Luis Nani, Antonio Valencia and Young all took the money and did enough to win league titles, and rarely excite the spectator.
Louis van Gaal can hardly be accused of exciting the spectator much, which is perhaps why a rejuvenated Young, hitting the heights of his pure functionality in tandem with Daley Blind or Luke Shaw, has been rewarded. If he carries on his new found discipline in performances, he is certainly worth keeping in the squad. Should he become complacent again, then few at Old Trafford can be surprised. Still, he's currently better at football than Angel Di Maria, which is something few people would have predicted at the start of last season.