Premier League

Moyes defends Young over 'dive'

United's Ashley Young after being awarded the penalty.
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Ashley Young has been warned that his penchant for diving would not be accepted.

It doesn't appear he's learning his lesson.

The Manchester United winger woke up to back-page headlines of ''Conman'' and ''Ashley's New Dive Shame'' on Wednesday after his latest theatrical tumble earned United a penalty, which was missed by Robin van Persie in the 0-0 draw against Real Sociedad in the Champions League.

Young was also condemned by former United captains Roy Keane and Ray Wilkins and was the target of heavy criticism on social networking sites, with the latest incident further sullying his reputation.

''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,'' Wilkins said on Sky Sports. ''He's getting a bad name.''

Young's image was once of a talented winger who had a fearsome cross and was one of English football's leading dead-ball exponents. It earned him a big-money move to United from Aston Villa in 2011.

Now, two years into his career at United, his name is invariably accompanied by the words ''dive'' or ''cheat.'' Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale have faced similar accusations and the slur is tough to shake off.

Only two months ago, United manager David Moyes said he had ''had a word with Ashley privately'' after a diving controversy during a Premier League match against Crystal Palace.

''I've always said I don't like diving,'' Moyes said at the time. ''He deserved to get booked. I don't want any of my players diving. I don't want anybody doing it.''

Those comments echoed the warning that Moyes' predecessor, Alex Ferguson, gave to Young in 2012 after a match against Queens Park Rangers when the winger's fall got QPR midfielder Shaun Derry sent off.

''I left him out of the next game,'' Ferguson recounts in his recently published autobiography, ''and told him that the last thing he needed as a Manchester United player was a reputation for going down easily.''

''Going to ground too easily was not something I tolerated,'' Ferguson said.

On this occasion, Moyes argued that Young got a ''tug in the box'' on Tuesday from Sociedad defender Markel Bergara, and replays showed there was contact, however slight. Moyes' defense didn't appear entirely convincing, though, and it certainly didn't stop the backlash from the former professionals and the media.

Young already faces a fight for his United career following the emergence of Adnan Januzaj this season and competition from Shinji Kagawa, Nani and Antonio Valencia. He has only started four of United's 10 league games and he wasn't selected in the most recent England squad for the final two World Cup qualifiers.

These latest allegations will hardly help his bid to return to the first team for both club and country.

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