MANCHESTER — Manchester United defender Ashley Young has admitted this season will be tinged with regret even if they finish second in the Premier League and lift the FA Cup.
Jose Mourinho’s team need four points from their final three games to secure their place as runners-up to Manchester City while victory over Chelsea in next month’s FA Cup final would seal a second successive season with a trophy.
United have beaten each of their top-six rivals in the last two months, including a 2-1 win over Arsenal at Old Trafford on Sunday.
And Young says it is a sign the campaign might have been different had they not dropped points unexpectedly — including three consecutive draws against Leicester, Burnley and Southampton over Christmas.
“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 kind of games then you think the season could have been different,” said Young, who set up Marouane Fellaini’s injury-time winner against Arsenal.
“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.”
Victory over Arsenal in Arsene Wenger’s last game at Old Trafford guaranteed United a place in the top four and Champions League football for next season.
A second-placed finish would be their highest in the league since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.
And with games against Brighton, West Ham and Watford to come, Young wants to finish the job.
“We have been second for quite a lot of the season and it is nice to be able to rubber stamp the Champions League qualification. But when you have been second so much you want to finish it,” he said.
“We wanted to finish higher but obviously we are not able to and being in second that is how we want to finish now.
“We need four points now and there are three games left in the league. We want to pick up as many points as possible.”
Young and his teammates have added incentive to perform in the final three games of the season with places up for grabs ahead of the FA Cup final with Chelsea on May 19.
Young’s appearance against Arsenal was his 34th of the season — his highest tally since arriving from Aston Villa in 2011 — and he is determined to keep his place as Mourinho’s regular left-back for the Wembley showpiece and into the new campaign.
“I just have to keep playing well,” he added.
“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 play in 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.”
Rob is ESPN FC’s Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @RobDawsonESPN.