United have plenty of ‘incentive’, says Young

Date published: Monday 1st May 2017 2:23

Ashley Young: On the move?

Manchester United midfielder Ashley Young admits his side’s failure to put teams away at Old Trafford has undermined them this season.

United were 1-0 up against relegation strugglers Swansea on Sunday but had to settle for a point when Gylfi Sigurdsson equalised with a free-kick 11 minutes from time.

That was their 14th draw of the Premier League season and 10th at home, a record that has compromised their top-four push and left them trailing rivals Manchester City and Liverpool.

Young did not sugarcoat his reaction, accepting the unwanted trend had contributed to an underwhelming return.

“After 10 draws at home, you think about the points that we’ve lost and thrown away and where we could have been in the league,” Young told MUTV.

“A lot of people have been talking about fourth spot in the league but I thought we could go even higher than that. We’ve got a lot of tough games but as long as we’re prepared I’m sure we can go and get the points that we need.”

United may not need to finish in the top four to regain their Champions League place next term if they get through a two-legged Europa League semi-final against Celta Vigo and go on to lift the trophy in Cardiff on May 24.

Jose Mourinho’s side are favourites to do just that but their prospects are being severely hampered by a series of injuries and a relentless fixture schedule.

After nine games in April there is no let up between now and the end of the campaign, with United facing games every three or four days.

Marouane Fellaini is serving a domestic ban but will be available for the game in Vigo, Paul Pogba and Juan Mata are set to return, but Luke Shaw and Eric Bailly joined the injured list against Swansea.

“We’ll have to recover again for the next few days and then we’ve got that trip (to Vigo) to look forward to. It’s not ideal getting a few more injuries on top of the ones we’ve already got but we have to keep going,” Young said.

“I think that’s all it’s been over the last month. You play a game, recover, and play another game. That’s exactly what will happen.

“We have plenty of incentive to get ourselves up for the Europa League semi-final and a chance to get to the final. If we can win that, we’ll get into the Champions League.”

Mourinho, meanwhile, has suggested he could name an under-23 side against Crystal Palace in the last Premier League game of the season.

Having last week floated the idea of fielding himself in defence, he has alighted on a more youthful idea.

“You are punished for doing well and if we beat Celta we have the final on the Wednesday (May 24) and we play against Crystal Palace on the Sunday (May 21),” he said.

“Before that we play Southampton and, with all respect, we would be playing in disaster consequences. Maybe I can bring (academy coach) Nicky Butt and his team to play against Crystal Palace and hopefully Palace doesn’t need a game to stay in the division because it would be very, very bad if they needed the points for us to play with the under-23s. It’s difficult.”

Events at the bottom of the table suggest Palace are unlikely to be chasing points for survival in the final round of fixtures, with Sunderland down, Middlesbrough close behind and Hull battling with the Swans for survival.

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