Manchester United don’t face Arsenal until Sunday afternoon, but that doesn’t mean either side can escape the headlines. For the Red Devils, the chatter is about Ashley Young and his brilliant dive against Real Sociedad in Champions League action on Tuesday. Young earned a penalty by going to ground, but Robin van Persie only managed to hit the post, ultimately leaving the score at 0-0. Despite United nicking the woodwork rather than a win, controversy remains.
Young’s made headlines before due to his willingness to hit the turf, and often his reputation precedes him, prompting referees to wave off his theatrics. Last April, after a particularly dramatic fall against former club Aston Villa, Sir Alex Ferguson had a little chat with the winger. However, the former United boss tempered his criticisms when speaking to the press, pointing to La Liga and stating Young’s performances were nothing like those of players at Real Madrid.
David Moyes, too, spoke to Young about his reputation. Two months ago, Young earned himself a caution when he went to ground after a collision with Crystal Palace midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi. Replays showed that, although Dikgacoi stuck out his leg, it was Young that initiated contact. After the match, Moyes clearly stated, “I don’t want my players diving.”
But this time, the Manchester United manager is backing his player, stating that Young is being judged on his reputation rather than the actual event. Moyes stated that incident itself should be judged, not Young’s propensity to go to ground, and that for him, it was a penalty. He also pointed out that referee Nicola Rizzoli was a mere two yards away when Markel Bergara tugged at Young’s shirt, bringing him down inside the area.