Jack Grealish and Mason Greenwood would push United much closer next season
"Whenever Alex Ferguson talked about courage, it was about the courage to have the ball."
Jack Grealish may have attracted the dismissive ire of Graeme Souness, on Sky Sports at the weekend, but most football fans have had a long time to assess the Aston Villa midfielder and they like what they see.
Villa are currently in the relegation zone - and lost 2-0 to Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday - but their fate remains in their own hands and three wins in their final five games may yet be enough to survive. Five or six points could even do it, such is the form of Bournemouth and Watford right now.
Grealish has been Villa's best performer all season but Souness took exception to Sky Sports host David Jones citing a statistic that shows he is the most fouled player in the league this season. To Souness, that represents the idea that Grealish holds onto the ball too long and is too slow to see the game unfolding in front of him.
On the latest episode of The Football Spin, Nooruddean Choudry provides an apt counter-argument to the former Liverpool and Scotland enforcer. He comments:
"Alex Ferguson famously talked about courage and bravery. And whenever he talked about courage, it was about the courage to have the ball."
"If you're going to get kicked and knocked about, the courage comes from going again, knowing that you're going to get kicked and bashed about. And that is the polar opposite of what I think Graeme Souness reckons courage is.
"Souness' idea of courage and bravery seems to be being offensive and being the attacker. Whereas the Ferguson argument is the person being fouled is the brave one."
Choudry adds that Grealish may be attracting opponents to him so space and be made for teammates or drawing fouls so his team can have more set-piece opportunities. In terms of not seeing the picture, the Villa star is only behind Kevin De Bruyne in terms of chances created this season.
Grealish may be on the move from Villa before the 2020/21 season, even should they avoid relegation to the Championship. The 24-year-old has found himself linked with a move to Manchester United for much of the season.
For United supporters, the coming weeks could see Grealish teamed up with a team that has scored 34 goals in their last 11 games.
Conversation, on the show, turned to Mason Greenwood after the 18-year-old took his season's tally to 15 after two goals in the 5-2 win over Bournemouth.
Choudry notes how those that have been following United's underage sides over the past few years have been more excited about his breakthrough to the senior side than they were in 2016 when Marcus Rashford came emerged.
"His form after the break almost feels like a second season," he says. "He's kicked on a level even beyond what he was even a few months ago."
Adding a player like Grealish, who has created 80 chances, scored seven goals and had six assists in 31 league outings, to a United midfield now humming with the likes of Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes and Nemanja Matic all in form could tee up Greenwood for ever great goalscoring deeds next season.
There is a lot of talk about United's interest in Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho, too, while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may look to strengthen his defence further. They sit a whopping 34 points back from Liverpool but recent form will convince many around the club that they can push the champions a lot closer next season.
Should Grealish choose to stay on at Villa, or go elsewhere, English fans may yet see him creating chances for the likes of Greenwood and Rashford in the national team.
You can listen to The Football Spin on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcast, or Spotify.