Former Liverpool star Dietmar Hamann has branded Ashley Young “worse than Luis Suarez” over his diving antics.
Young has found himself at the centre of more unwanted attention since Tuesday night after winning Manchester United a dubious penalty in the Champions League game against Real Sociedad.
Not even Robin van Persie’s failure to convert the spot-kick has saved Young from the ire of his fellow professionals.
Former United skipper Roy Keane claimed the winger had “conned” Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli, whilst another ex-Red Devils captain Ray Wilkins was equally scathing in his assessment of Young’s reaction to the faintest of touches from Markel Bergara.
Hamann has gone even further, claiming Young has even eclipsed the behaviour of Suarez, who has been castigated for diving in the past, including a damning assessment of David Moyes prior to last season’s Merseyside derby last October.
“Ashley Young is much worse than Suarez has ever been,” Hamann said.
“It’s blatant cheating to try to win a penalty.
“Gareth Bale got a lot of stick last year but you’ve got to be very careful, because sometimes it’s about protecting yourself in anticipation of a challenge.
“If someone comes to clatter you, your first instinct is to jump in order to protect yourself.
“Yesterday [with Young] there was no protection issue, it was a slight touch on his arm and he stated rolling over.”
Hamann added: “It’s gone too far now. Manchester United, with their reputation, shouldn’t need to dive and cheat to win a football match.”
Next up for United is a Premier League showdown with Arsenal on Sunday, a game Wayne Rooney has already stoked the fires for by casting doubt on the Premier League leaders’ title credentials.
The arrival of Mesut Ozil — the man Rooney once advised Alex Ferguson to sign — from Real Madrid appears to be a masterstroke and with all their rivals making a faltering start, the Gunners have already established a five-point cushion at the top.
But Rooney remains unconvinced about their threat.
“We’ll have to wait and see where Arsenal are in March,” he said.
“We’ve seen before that they’ve been in the top two until February or March and then faded away. However, they are doing brilliantly now.”
After losing three of their opening six games, United have been gradually clawing their way back into contention.
Despite registering back-to-back league victories for the first time this season, the Red Devils remain in a rather unaccustomed eighth position.
But the gap to all but Arsenal — whom they are eight points behind — has been closed to a rather more manageable level.
However, after collecting just a single point from their early-season meetings with Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City, United have a point to prove about their own durability, beyond the simple requirement of victory.
“We’re obviously capable of beating Arsenal,” said Rooney. “We’ve done it many times in the past.
“They’re on a good run of form at the moment and they’re top of the league, so we know it’s going to be a difficult game.
“But we have to go into it with confidence and a belief this is when we can edge closer to them and bring us back into the mix of being at the top of the league.”
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