Ashley Young believes Manchester United have laid down a marker for next season with their recent performances, but at the end of a campaign that has been underpinned by the frustration of letting the Premier League title get away from them.
The Red Devils are on track to end a third successive season with a major trophy, with the FA Cup final against Chelsea a chance to build on what looks set to be their best league finish since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.
United boss Jose Mourinho is determined to wrap up second spot – if only to ram his critics’ words down their throat – but full-back Young, so impressive this term, cannot help but think of what could have been.
While there is a huge gap to champions Manchester City, they recently came back to beat Pep Guardiola’s men in sensational fashion – one of several big wins over the last two months.
Sunday’s 2-1 win against Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal saw them chalk up another notable result, with United also having beaten Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool in one competition or another since the end of February.
“We want to keep winning,” full-back Young said.
“We want to keep up the momentum to the end of the season and the FA Cup final.
“We have to put down a marker for next season with the way we perform from now on. It is building towards next season.”
Asked where he knew the title might be too much for United this season, Young acknowledged: “It has been one of those seasons when around Christmas we were drawing games, late goals against us and, when you look back at those kinds of games, then you think the season could have been different.
“It wasn’t meant to be, but we have put down a marker against the top-four, top-six clubs but it is more than that.
“We have to win at other clubs as well. We have to win more games than we have done. It has been one of those seasons.
“If we can finish with the number of points we know we can, then it is a different season and that points total that would have won us the league, but it is not to be.
“We have to keep the momentum now.”
Manchester United certainly have the individual talent to end the campaign on a high, as well as the necessary spirit.
That was again evident on Sunday after Marouane Fellaini to came off the bench to snatch a last-gasp 2-1 win after Paul Pogba’s early goal had been cancelled out by January departure Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Young on his World Cup prospects
Young’s cross set up the winner as his excellent form continued, putting him in the frame for a place in England’s World Cup squad and surely a starting role in the FA Cup final.
“I am the wrong man to ask, that is down to the manager,” he said.
“I just have to keep playing well. Everybody wants to play in the cup final and every player wants to play in every game.
“I still have the hunger and desire to win the same as I had when I was 21.
“I am nearly 33 now and getting on a bit, but I still have that hunger and desire to go out and playing every game.
“I know my legs can still take me through games and I have showed that with the number of games I have played this season.”
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