Man United's Ashley Young Is Right to Defend Himself over Diving Accusations

Rob DawsonManchester United CorrespondentDecember 12, 2013

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 09: Ashley Young of Manchester United in action during a first team training session, ahead of their UEFA Champions League Group A match against Shakhtar Donetsk, at Aon Training Complex on December 09, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

Ashley Young's thoughts on diving won't go down well with the purists.

They would have liked a heart-felt apology for his indiscretions and a promise never to do it again. But that's not what they got.

Talking to the Manchester Evening News after the 1-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk, his first start since the Capital One Cup tie with Norwich in October, Young was unapologetic. There was no pledge to stay on his feet in the future.

Instead, he said it was up to the referees to decide. He was nothing if not honest.

“I think it’s one to ask the referees. They’re the ones who are giving free-kicks and penalties.

“I remember getting booked against Crystal Palace and then won a penalty. Against Real Sociedad it was another penalty that was given.

"Referees have got tough decisions to make, they have a tough, tough time out there making decisions, but they have made the right decisions I think.

“I don’t take notice of the headlines or the debates. That’s obviously for the media to debate and people to have their say on it and everyone is entitled to have their say on it.

“For me, the referees have made decisions and that’s it.

“It’s been talked about obviously by the previous manager and the current manager but that’s in house. I’m not going to comment on what’s been said.

“I understand what you’re saying (about getting a reputation) and everyone is going to have their say on it but like I say I’ve spoken to the previous manager and current manager, the referees are giving decisions and that is where I think it lies."

The implication is that a dive is not a dive unless the referee says so. And, while Young will take some stick for his opinion, to a certain extent he's right.

He was heavily criticised after winning a penalty against Real Sociedad in November. The slow motion replays didn't look great but the bottom line was the man in charge, Nicola Rizzoli, decided it was a penalty.

Rizzoli was no more than five yards away. He was the best-suited man to make the decision.

As it should be.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 14: Ashley Young of Manchester United goes to ground after a challenge from Kagisho Dikgacoi of palace befoe being booked for divingduring the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Crystal Palace at Ol
Michael Regan/Getty Images

It's easy to sit in the stands or watch on television and pass judgement.

But only Young truly knows whether he's been fouled and impeded to the point where he has to go to ground, or not. After that, it's up to the referee to decide.

He can give a penalty, issue a yellow card for diving or do nothing. But the responsibility lies with the ref.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 01: Ashley Young of Manchester United in action during a training session ahead of their Champions League Group A match against Shakhtar Donetsk at their Carrington Training Complex on October 01, 2013 in Manchester, England
Paul Thomas/Getty Images

Like Young says, referees can do their bit by being vigilant. But they can also help stamp out diving by trying to break the association in players' minds between falling over and being fouled.

How often do we hear that a player has been "too honest," that he "had a right to go down?"

But a foul is a foul whether the victim ends up on the floor or not. And if players felt confident they would get free-kicks and penalties without going to ground, they would eventually stop doing it. Eventually.

After all, no player wants to answer the awkward questions Young has had to face this week. If the public shame doesn't put them off diving, nothing will.