David Moyes appeared to defend Ashley Young on Tuesday night as two former Manchester United players condemned him for another act of simulation following the Champions League draw with Real Sociedad.
Young won a second-half penalty that was missed by Robin van Persie, but Sociedad coach Jagoba Arrasate revealed his defender, Markel Bergara, felt the United man “just fell over”—per Ian Ladyman’s Daily Mail report.
Former United midfielder Ray Wilkins witnessed the incident and instantly attacked Young, saying in Ladyman’s article:
This is pathetic. This is as bad for me as all these over the top tackles we're getting at the moment because that is a conning of the referee.
I just wish Ashley would cut this out because he's a good player but he's getting a bad name.
Wilkins’ anger is borne out of multiple incidents in which Young has been accused of falling to ground with minimal contact in an attempt to win a decision from the referee.
Earlier in the season he was even criticised by his own manager when the former Aston Villa man collapsed to the ground against Crystal Palace. David Moyes commented at the time, per BBC Sport: "I don't want my players diving. It's not what I want.”
However, Moyes refused to attack his player again after Tuesday’s 0-0 draw, which kept United top of their Champions League group, albeit with a difficult trip to Bayer Leverkusen next on the agenda.
Moyes was quoted saying by Ladyman:
I have seen the replay. The boy tugs him in the box.
The referee is two yards away from it and decides to give it. He's (Young) got a penalty kick for a decision tonight.
Moyes was in the minority believing Young had been tugged severely enough to hit the deck, with former Red Devil Roy Keane also using the word “con” to describe the player’s actions, per Ladyman’s report.
It is likely on this occasion that Moyes has defended his player in order to prevent a wider storm developing around the United winger.
Not like Ashley Young to go to ground so easily.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) November 5, 2013
An arm did come out from Bergara and contact was made, so there is an element of doubt as to whether Young dived. That is more than enough to help Moyes pass it off as a genuine penalty claim.
However, Young is a player that—when he wants to stay on his feet—shows exceptional balance to change direction and leave defenders for dead. Somehow that balance escapes him as soon as he enters an opposition penalty area.
Did Young dive against Sociedad?
Previous incidents against QPR and Aston Villa, in addition to the two controversial incidents this season, have garnered the England international an unflattering reputation, which brings embarrassment not only on himself but the club he represents.
On this occasion it is difficult to categorically slam Young, given the existence of contact from the Sociedad defender, but his unsavoury status as a player who “cons” referees is unlikely to aid his long-term prospects with a manager who has always publicly criticised such actions.
Young has largely been left among the United substitutes this campaign and, despite a lively impact on Tuesday, it will be no surprise to see him on the bench again when Arsenal come to Old Trafford this weekend.