Ashley Young is showing no signs of maturity

Players can go through phases of going down occasionally but the Manchester United midfielder has let everyone down repeatedly.

Manchester United’s Ashley Young, right, also went down in September’s Premier League game against Crystal Palace. Barrington Coombs / Empics
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Ashley Young’s reputation has been badly damaged. He is seen as a diver, someone who goes down too easily in search of a penalty.

Referees have criticised him. Managers, too. Rival fans have criticised him.

But you know you are doing something badly wrong when your own fans turn on you.

When your own supporters stop supporting you it is because they have had enough of your antics.

If Young goes on Twitter to offer the blandest observation, he gets abused by Manchester United fans. It is a shame, but he has brought it on himself.

He is a very good player, which is why United bought him in 2011 after several good years with Aston Villa. He crosses well, he is fast, tricky and can go past a man.

He is a right-footer who plays on the left. He can cut inside or go outside.

He can play off a centre-forward and get a shot in on goal.

He has had a few decent moments at Old Trafford, too, but his personal stock is at an all-time low. I know he has been unlucky with injuries, but he is seen as being a diver.

Sir Alex Ferguson said last season that Young would not be doing it anymore.

He had the word from him. He also claimed, in his recent autobiography, that Young had matured.

But Young has done it again. He won a penalty against Real Sociedad on Tuesday after another theatrical tumble following a slight pull from a defender.

David Moyes has added his word to Ferguson’s. The player keeps getting chances, but he really needs to heed them.

If he does, he can slowly recover his reputation. Not to mention his confidence, which must be battered by abuse and the fact that he is in and out of the team.

Does he really want to be known as a diver? It shows a lack of respect for everyone.

Players, even at rival clubs, do respect each other. Fans may view it differently, but players know what they have gone through to make it as a top-level pro.

They respect each other’s talents. But it is very hard to respect a diver.

I cannot understand why a player wants to dive. I did not do it. Never.

I was not graceful enough, for a start. I struggle to dive into a swimming pool, but I grew up in a culture where I saw 14-year-old players being kicked while they were on the floor in the penalty box – and still not get a penalty.

I always tried to stay on my feet. My United teammates did the same.

Have you ever seen Ryan Giggs, who plays in the same position as Young, fall?

My thinking was that I had more chance of scoring if I was upright than on the floor.

Yes, I could have sought the advantage of a penalty, but it is only an advantage, it is not a goal. It is always better to score a goal from open play.

Such is the stigma attached to diving that it has almost been eradicated from the English game. The lazy view has been to blame foreigners for the practice.

They may come from a culture where cunning is applauded and seen as an art. I see penalties awarded during games from Spain or Italy on television and wonder why. It is their culture.

Players need to get quickly up to speed when they arrive in England.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Ruud van Nistelrooy both had it after they arrived in England. I do not think either were divers. Ronaldo ran at players with such speed that if they did make contact he would go down. That is the human body rather than a diving mentality.

Diving will never fully disappear. There will always be an individual hoping to seek an advantage.

He may con the referee, but with so many television cameras about, he will soon be found out. And who wants to be found out for being a diver?

Players can go through stages of going down too easily. Luis Suarez did that. Thankfully, he is out of that phase and he is a far better player for it.

Young needs to get his head down and not go down when a defender closes in on him. He needs to knock the diving out of his game, to get back to the player he was at Villa Park.

He will be a better player for it, a better person. People will warm to him, his confidence will rise, the England call-ups will return.

If he does not, it will overshadow the talent which saw him progress to the top football ranks.

And what a shame that will be.

Andrew Cole’s column is written with the assistance of the European correspondent Andy Mitten.

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