Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Manchester United players will have to stand up and show more hunger, says Ashley Young

Misfiring: Ashley Young has failed to score since April 2012, and wasted two good opportunities in the midweek win over Shakhtar

Manchester United winger Ashley Young believes the players have to take their fair share of responsibility for their recent poor form.

The Red Devils avoided the ignominy of a third successive home defeat – which has not occurred for 51 years – after a 1-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk allowed them to top Group A in the Champions League.

However, it was preceded by back-to-back Old Trafford losses to Everton and Newcastle in a run of matches which has not seen them win in the league since November 10. On Monday, manager David Moyes tried to shoulder the blame for his misfiring players by saying he took "complete responsibility for the results".

But Young thinks the whole squad has a duty to improve results. "Of course. We are the players who go out on the pitch," he said when asked whether they felt responsibility should be shared.

"Everyone is in it together; manager, staff and players. We win together, we lose together."

Against Shakhtar, Young made his first start since the Capital One Cup win over Norwich in late October.

He has come in for plenty of criticism for his own fans in recent months having failed to deliver the sort of effective performances which persuaded former Red Devils boss Sir Alex Ferguson to pay £18m for his services in the summer of 2011.

At the age of 28, the winger should be approaching the prime time of his career but since being at United his progress appears to have stalled and there has been more focus on his propensity to go to ground easily than on what he has offered the side in his time.

Against the Ukrainians, he had two good opportunities to break a club goalscoring drought stretching back 18 months but lobbed his first effort wide when he could have presented the unmarked Wayne Rooney with an open goal while slicing his second woefully wide again.

Phil Jones was the unlikely match winner with a second-half strike to give United something to build on as they head to Young's former club Villa on Sunday.

"We really wanted to get back to winning ways and thankfully we managed to do that," Young added.

"We would have liked to have got a few goals more but it wasn't to be. The main thing is we got the three points and topped the group.

"When you're winning you play with more confidence than when you are losing.

"Everybody showed confidence out there. Everybody wanted to play and everybody wanted the ball. We want to get back to winning (every week) and there's no better place to go than Villa Park on Sunday and hopefully get another three points.

"If we put on a display like we did against Shakhtar we should be able to do that."

United are seven points adrift of the top four and 13 behind leaders Arsenal. Young thinks, however, if they can have a good festive programme they can close the gap on their rivals.

"We want to build on this win, especially around Christmas time when you have games coming thick and fast and it is a vitally important period," he said.

"There are plenty of games and plenty of points to play for. There is another tough test coming up this weekend but we can definitely go there and keep the momentum going into the new year.

"Last night we put on a good performance, finished top of the group and we can build on that."

Meanwhile, defender Alex Buttner admits the players do look at their own performances when results go badly but hopes their Champions League victory will provide a springboard to improved domestic results.

"We are the players and if we lose we have to look to ourselves but I think we did well against Shakhtar," the Dutch left-back said. "It is hard for everyone when we don't win at home. That is why we fought for every ball and you could see everyone doing that."

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