Manchester United’s dominance against Chelsea on Sunday shocked even more than their win, but Ashley Young believes such a performance has been coming – and now the stand-in captain wants more.
An inability to kill teams off has cost Jose Mourinho’s side dearly this term, leaving them scrapping for a top-four place rather than challenging for the Premier League.
Those issues, along with United’s Europa League exertions, meant few saw past Antonio Conte’s table-toppers on Easter Sunday, but Chelsea were in for a rude awakening at Old Trafford.
The Blues failed to muster a single shot on target for the first time since September 2007 as United tactically strangled them, with Marcus Rashford and Ander Herrera securing a win more comprehensive than the 2-0 scoreline suggests.
Young was as proud of the display as he was to captain United for the first time, saying “every man was fantastic from start to finish” as his side stylishly ended a frustrating run of home draws.
“We have felt that kind of performance coming,” the versatile 31-year-old said. “There have been a lot of draws at home.
“I don’t think a lot of people saw that scoreline coming or the type of game to be honest. We did.
“We have belief in ourselves. I have confidence in every single player in the squad.
“There is great competition in the squad. We have a busy month and everyone has to be ready and on their toes. I don’t think a lot of people expected it but we did.”
Anderlecht will be in for a torrid time on Thursday if United can replicate that display in the Europa League quarter-final second leg.
The performance also bodes well for the remainder of the season, with fifth-placed United four points behind their nearest rivals but boasting at least a game in hand on all of them.
“There have been high standards here since I signed for the club and we want to be pushing on,” Young, a Premier League winner four years ago, said.
“A lot has been said about how we want to finish fourth but I am that kind of person who wants to achieve more than that. I want to finish higher than that.
“Hopefully we have a semi-final coming up. If we can play like we did against Chelsea, then I am sure we can get through against Anderlecht and into the semi-finals.”
Young watched the 1-1 draw in Belgium at home as he recovered from a groin issue but could well start the return fixture given his recent rise from a peripheral figure to one of Mourinho’s most dependable players.
After talk earlier in the year about a move to China ended, the 31-year-old has featured regularly across the competitions and being named captain on Sunday was reward for his impressive consistency.
Sunday’s display will have also caught the eye of watching England manager Gareth Southgate, but Young was not getting carried away three-and-a-half years after winning the last of his 30 caps.
“It is always an honour and maybe one day it (an England call-up) will happen again,” he said.
“But I am just concentrating on Manchester United and wanting to play well here. It is down to the England manager.”
One player sure to have a bright international future with England is Rashford, who sparkled against Chelsea after opening the scoring.
“I said it all along that, when he was coming through the youth team and reserves, you could see there was something special about him,” Young said.
“He plays the game with hunger. It comes natural to him.
“When he does things quick I don’t think there are many defenders who can live with him.
“He was fantastic for us and we needed the outlet. When he can get in behind he is a threat.
“He has a massive future in front of him not only for Manchester United but for England as well.”