Sir Alex Ferguson has agreed that Ashley Young is attracting a reputation for going down too easily after "a dramatic fall" to win the penalty for Manchester United's opening goal in the 4-0 defeat of Aston Villa at Old Trafford.
The win restored United's five‑point lead over Manchester City in the title race but it was Young's clash with Ciaran Clark on seven minutes that again made the forward the focus of controversy.
Young went down after he appeared to move his leg to Clark's. Wayne Rooney scored the penalty just as he did when Young fell under the touch of Queens Park Rangers' Shaun Derry in the 2-0 win last Sunday that caused the QPR midfielder to be sent off.
Asked if Young was getting a reputation for falling too easily, Ferguson said: "Yes. In the last week or two, yeah. I've never seen that in him, it's not a habitual thing in him. He was brought down, he just made the most of it. I think he played for the penalty. If the player decides to put his foot in and doesn't stay on his feet and read the situation, he has fallen into the situation. But he's definitely taken him. It was a dramatic fall. He overdid the fall but it's a penalty, there's no doubt about that and I don't think they can have any complaint because he has taken him."
Alex McLeish, the Aston Villa manager, said: "I didn't think it was a penalty. He had his foot planted firmly on the ground and tried to pull it away. I certainly felt it was a very soft decision. It's so difficult for refs because it happens that fast. We had a young player at Liverpool last week who stepped inside Agger. It should have been a penalty but he got booked. It looked as if he was a diver. It's a split-second decision for referees and a difficult job."
Ferguson also offered rare criticism of Rooney. "He was careless. Wayne has to play on the edge of a game, when it is really close and competitive. When the game gets to that casual bit, he is worse than the rest of them. He gets really casual about it. It is better when he is on the edge, then he is a marvellous player."