Sidebar

15
Fri, Dec
48 New Articles

Typography

“IF I had a gun I would have shot him,” was John Gregory’s infamous reaction to Dwight Yorke leaving Aston Villa for Manchester United.

Now, 13 years on, it is Yorke himself talking about another Villa big gun taking a shot at success after Ashley Young followed him up the M6 this week.

Yorke knows all about the expectation levels at Old Trafford having left his claret and blue comfort zone to be thrust into the United spotlight with a £12.6 million move in August 1998.

Within a year Yorke had become the focal point of Sir Alex Ferguson’s historic treble-winning team with Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup winners’ medals hanging around his neck.

He went on to further vindicate his decision to leave Villa with two more league titles so he can understand the lure of the Red Devils even with the red-hot pressure which accompanied a move to Manchester United.

“That’s the ultimate in football, you’re going to play for the best club in the world, that’s what you’re doing. It’s impossible to resist,” said the 39-year-old former strike star.

“No disrespect to Villa. They are a club I loved dearly for ten years and still have a lot of affection for. They gave me a great base to develop myself as a footballer.

“But when you go to Manchester United and you’re playing Champions League football all the time, that’s what it’s all about.

"I can understand why Ashley Young has gone there, definitely, but he must realise that there will be high expectations on him like nothing he has ever known before.”

Yorke admits the transformation from main man at Bodymoor Heath to new boy among a group of proven superstars at Carrington can be a daunting experience.

And the retired Trinidad and Tobago international has warned Young he can no longer be a guaranteed starter now he has joined the “world’s biggest club”.

“It’s just something totally different,” said Yorke. “It’s just all there, the place is buzzing, and trust me it’s just all happening.

“Everything has to go up a notch or lots of notches.

“Your life does change when you go to Manchester United, you are scrutinised more, you can’t do much, people talk about you.

“It’s all about handling that, handling the situation of being a Manchester United player and the most important thing is producing when it matters.

“He’s not going to have it easy, he’s going to have to go and fight for his place because there are so many quality players there.”

Yorke recognises Young still has room for improvement if he is to challenge Ryan Giggs, Nani and Antonio Valencia for a regular starting role at United.

But Ferguson’s willingness to pay big money for the 25-year-old England star and offer him a five-year contract is enough to convince Yorke that Young could follow his own success at the Theatre of Dreams.

“He’s shown good potential and Manchester United normally don’t get it too wrong when they go after players,” said Yorke.

“If Sir Alex Ferguson is prepared to pay that then he must see him as a Manchester United player. It’s all well and good Sir Alex Ferguson giving you the opportunity, but you have to take it.

“He’s been given a shot at success and he has to make sure he does everything he can to be a winner at Manchester.”

Which brings us on to Gregory’s ‘I would have shot him’ statement, which rankled back then but is now laughed off with a flash of Yorke’s trademark smile.

“It wasn’t funny at the time, but now you look at it it’s not really a problem any more and you can laugh at it,” added Yorke.

“I suppose I had the last laugh. I went and won the treble in my first season so it doesn’t get much better than that. I was very lucky.

"My timing was absolutely spot-on in terms of leaving the club and being part of an historic moment in football and for Manchester United.”