Ashley Young: Manchester United relish 'underdogs' tag ahead of derby
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Last Updated: 06/12/19 2:43pm
Ashley Young says Manchester United thrive off being labelled as underdogs - and hopes being outsiders for Saturday's Manchester derby also plays in their favour.
United make the short trip across the city on their longest unbeaten run in the Premier League this season, after going four games without defeat.
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It is not a long run for a club of United's stature, but the 2-1 victory over Tottenham on Jose Mourinho's return to Old Trafford has certainly lifted the mood.
There had been reports that Solskjaer would be sacked if United had lost against Tottenham, and again at Manchester City on Saturday - claims the Norwegian dismissed as "blatant lies" - and Young admits the squad relish proving people wrong.
"I feel it helps when anybody thinks that United are underdogs going into a game," Young told Sky Sports. "We know what we've got here. The team and the staff here know what we're building on. I had every confidence that we would go out and win the game.
"After the draws we had, it was important for us to get back to winning ways. We said before the game that we had to be on the front foot, we had to start well - and we've done that in a lot of games.
"We've gone 1-0 up and not been able to see games out. On another day, I feel we could have got more but we had to defend as a team as well and be resilient."
Young praised the growing maturity of Marcus Rashford, with the England forward's ability described as "frightening" after his latest stellar performance.
Rashford has scored 12 goals in 13 games for club and country, and his nine Premier League goals leave him just one short already of his season-best.
"He's a world-class player, and when he's at it, it's hard to stop him," Young added. "He's just growing and growing - and he's still young. He's one of those players who wants to be out there.
"He wants to be out on the training pitch improving himself, and he's at his best when he plays off instincts. He just plays off the cuff, and it's frightening to see.
"I see it day in, day out, and his confidence is sky-high right now - yet he's still saying he wants to improve. It's just the way he is and he's just got that mentality."
There have been bumps in the road this season for United, but Solskjaer is under no immediate danger of losing his job - and the morale-boosting win over Spurs adds credence to the belief at board level that genuine progress is being made.
Arsenal and Sheffield United's failure to win on Thursday means United enter the derby still in sixth place - and Young highlighted a hidden steeliness to his manager as Solskjaer goes in search of a first win at the Etihad since entering the dug-out.
"A lot of people in the press still see him as the baby-faced assassin. But it was like I said before, when he arrived it was like the boss [Sir Alex Ferguson] had walked back through the door.
"When he gets down the business, it's serious. At times in the dressing room, he's had to lose it, and I think that's right when things aren't going well. You need to be told that.
"He's got a nice side and a horrible side, which I feel you need. A lot is said about managers, but it's down to the players at the end of the day."
Young returned to the United starting line-up on Wednesday having been overlooked in preference of 19-year-old Brandon Williams in the draws with Sheffield United and Aston Villa following a one-match suspension.
The focus will now be on maintaining momentum heading into the hectic Christmas period - and Young believes no extra motivation will be needed ahead of the first Manchester derby of the season.
"Consistency has been the issue," he said. "Decisions or certain things we haven't done in games - we haven't stuck to our principles which is why we've not been able to get the right results.
"But everything came together in that game against Tottenham, and the confidence going into the Manchester derby will be sky-high.
"I don't think words will be needed. Of course, it matters to the fans and it's massive for the city. For us as players, I think everyone in the dressing room knows what it means.
"We've always got that 'never-say-die' attitude; that's the Man United way - if the other team score one, you score two. The other team score two, you score three - that's just how it is."
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