Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill insists winger Ashley Young is not a cheat

Martin O'Neill claims Aston Villa winger Ashley Young is in danger of being unfairly branded a cheat.

Villa boss O’Neill was unhappy with referee Phil Dowd’s decision to caution Young for simulation during the 3-0 defeat at Arsenal last Sunday.

‘It was far too close to call for simulation,’ said O’Neill.

Ashley Young

No diver: Ashley Young (top)

‘It was crazy. I didn’t realise it at the time but what the referee has done is utter lunacy. ‘Is Ashley going to do three somersaults in the air and come down and potentially land on his head so he can get a foul?

'There was real potential for Ashley to have landed on his head. Now, he hasn’t got that off to a fine art, let me tell you. And he doesn’t perform acrobatics.

‘Wayne Rooney was booked for diving against us at Old Trafford and the referee was right on top of it. If you look at a dive there is no real potential for the player to injure himself.

‘The referee has to take into account the manner in which he has fallen down. That (decision) was nonsense.

‘You would not try what Ashley did and put yourself under that sort of risk.’

Martin O'Neill

Furious: Martin O'Neill

O’Neill added that the nature of Young’s play means that he is always in danger of being tripped.

‘What happens is referees go home at night and they have a look at what Premier League players are doing and get a notion in their head,’ said O’Neill.

‘Then they will pick on him. What happened was a nonsense. Because very little was said about it referees will gather and think it was a dive.

'It wasn’t. ‘I am not sure Ashley has that reputation, but if other referees think that is a dive then it will get the notion into other people’s heads.

'They are worried about being castigated the next day as there are 37 cameras.

‘So they get this notion in their head not to miss decisions. Referees should just go and referee the game and not be too concerned about that.

‘I have a lot of sympathy for referees who are more worried about what Sunday might bring rather than Saturday. But if Phil Dowd thought that was a dive, then we will have to go back to the drawing board.’

No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now