Mason Greenwood was the feel-good story of United’s season as the, recently turned, 18-year-old bagged 17 goals in his debut campaign - putting his name with the likes of George Best and Wayne Rooney as the most goals scored by a teenager for the Red Devils in a single season. We take a look at his rise from the junior ranks.
Breaking into the First Team
Greenwood was talented, and everyone in the United coaching staff knew that but there was also the question if he could do it, week-in week-out, like many other academy graduates (the likes of Macheda, Josh Harrop, etc.) who had shown early promise, but ultimately failed to make it at United. It was expected that last season he would be in and out of the first team, getting minutes in cup competitions while also playing for the reserves so that he gets an ample amount of game time.
However, after the sale of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez leaving on loan, there was suddenly a void in the attacking, and Greenwood was asked to step up - boy did he deliver! He scored 17 goals in the campaign, putting him alongside Wayne Rooney and George Best for the most goals scored by a United teenager. In Peter Drury’s words – “If your name appears in the same sentence as George Best, then you have actually achieved something in life”.
The Story of the Season
Earlier in the 2019/20 season, Greenwood was limited to Europa League and Cup game starts, coming off the bench every now and then to make an impact, and many times he did just that. His impact undoubtedly forced Solskjaer to rethink his position in the squad. It seemed that Greenwood would always make a contribution wherever and whenever he played it was almost impossible to ignore him.
With Dan James’ form fading away, Mason Greenwood made the right-wing slot his own towards the end of the season and was a major reason why we managed to get Champions League football. Through the entire season we were able to see that not only does he have lethal finishing abilities (probably the best I’ve seen so far), he is extremely intelligent and always seems to know when to pass and when to shoot. That doesn’t mean he shies away from a chance, far from it as most of his goals had an xG of less than 0.1 meaning that it goes in less than 10 times out of a hundred.
Being two-footed has caused plenty of problems for defenders, and you simply cannot show him either side of the goal – case in point the game against Bournemouth where he had two shots which ended up in goals from both feet just because one side of the goal was shown to him. He always seems to have the ability to create something out of nothing and is the embodiment of the ‘Never Say Die’ spirit that has been passed on from generation to generation at Manchester United.
His Role in the United Squad
His stellar first season exploits earned Greenwood the legendary number 11 kit that the iconic Welsh wizard, Giggsy, famously wore. United’s star boy has all it takes to go from strength to strength this season. He currently plays in the right-wing role, but he can be utilized as a left-winger as well as he has shown time and time again. Greenwood’s ability to seamlessly switch positions, with both Martial and Rashford, throughout the game makes United a very fluid and dynamic attacking threat, making it extremely hard for defenses to deal with.
I believe Greenwood could reasonably play in the RW role for years to come, but his best position is him playing as a number nine. He has the amazing ability to create for himself, he is not as strong when depended upon to create for others. Greenwood has all the qualities, except maybe aerial prowess, which he can develop on (people sometimes forget that he is just 18 years old), to make the spot his own if he continues to build on his breakthrough season.
Another place he can be utilized, although not suggested is in the number 10 role where he can play in the Trequartista/Shadow Striker sort of role where he will bomb into the box from time to time and otherwise link-up play from deep. But this might dampen the use of his greatest quality – lethal finishing.
What does the Future Hold?
There is no doubt in my mind about this – Mason Greenwood is going to be a Man United legend in the near future. He is the once in a hundred years sort of talent that comes through an academy and could become United’s, and possibly England’s, number 9 in the future. According to Solskjaer – “Sky’s the limit for how far he can reach”. For now, he needs to be around the first team, but it is also important that we do not burn him up. He needs to be utilized efficiently, and that means giving him a rest every now and then. Properly managed, he could be the one guiding the Red Devils back to the glory days…
There has been a recent flurry of negative media spots pertaining to Greenwood's behavior. The player should take responsibility for the outcomes, and he has done this publicly. However, it is important to note that the boy is still a teenager and all the misjudged actions attributed to him are typical for a young person of his age. Any vilification of the lad based on these events should be considered unwarranted and improper. We wish Greenwood a productive season ahead. We sincerely hope he keeps his head down, keeps learning, and focuses on improving his skills as a footballer, and himself - A Note from the Editor.
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Varun (@VarunSangwan01) is a writer at large, and one of the global contributors to the Daily Manc team. He is also the creator and chief editor of The United Devils.
All opinions and materials of contributor writers are solely their own and do not necessarily represent positions held by The Daily Manc.