Greenwood looks back to his best a year on from England controversy

The Greenwood revolution! Manchester United teenage sensation Mason is the most natural finisher at the club and looks back to his red-hot best a year on from being embroiled in England controversy

  • Mason Greenwood dazzled and scored in Manchester United’s win over Leeds 
  • The teenage starlet is the most natural finisher at the club despite being just 19 
  • Greenwood has responded to controversy with England to reach his best form 
  • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes that Greenwood has turned from a boy into a man 

Paul Pogba’s pass was out of this world but Mason Greenwood still had plenty of work to do as he galloped away towards the Stretford End.

Probably the best compliment to Greenwood is that you expected him to score before he squeezed the ball through the corridor between goalkeeper Illan Meslier and the far post in Manchester United’s thumping 5-1 win against Leeds last weekend.

Great goalscorers inspire that kind of confidence and we were reminded once again that, at the age of 19, Greenwood is the most natural finisher at Old Trafford.

Wonderkid Mason Greenwood remains the most natural finisher in Manchester United’s squad

Bruno Fernandes and Pogba stole the headlines but Greenwood was superb. So began a big season for him; one that has got off to a significantly better start than the last one.

It is coming up to a year since Greenwood won his first and only senior England cap against Iceland. United were uncomfortable about the call-up because they knew Greenwood needed a rest after his 17-goal breakthrough season and there was only a short pause before the 2020-21 campaign kicked off following Project Restart.

The club were unhappier still when a young man they had nurtured carefully through the ranks was immediately thrust into the media spotlight by England.

Greenwood was superb in United’s 5-1 win against Leeds and this season will be big for him

What happened next is well documented. Greenwood made his international bow but he and Phil Foden were sent home for smuggling two girls into the team hotel in Reykjavik. In the weeks that followed, United had to speak to Greenwood about his attitude.

The teenager scored just four goals in the first six months before eight in his final 14 games put a more positive complexion on his second full season in the United first team.

It was enough for Gareth Southgate to recall him in England’s provisional squad for Euro 2020 but Greenwood pulled out due to ‘an underlying injury’.

In any case, he badly needed the break and, during this summer, he made a point of keeping his head down.

Gareth Southgate recalled Greenwood for England despite the incident at their team hotel

He posted a video of him training with former academy team-mate D’Mani Mellor on July 3 and was the biggest name to report for pre-season two days later while his team-mates were at the Euros and Copa America.

Plenty of time has been spent bulking up in the gym and that was evident in the player’s physique on opening day. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Greenwood has turned from a boy into a man and United are already reaping the rewards.

‘I’m feeling good,’ he said after the win over Leeds. ‘All the coaching staff have helped me to start the season strongly and make sure I was ready to go.’ 

Greenwood’s strike saw him become the third United star to net 30 goals before he turned 20

Greenwood’s strike meant he became the third United player to score 30 goals before his 20th birthday, after Norman Whiteside and George Best, and the fifth highest-scoring teenager in Premier League history. 

The common theory is United are readying Greenwood to succeed Edinson Cavani as United’s central striker when the Uruguayan’s contract runs out next summer, with Rashford on the left wing and Sancho on the right.

Solskjaer may have other plans. ‘Who says I want him to be a striker?’ countered the United manager. ‘I’ve got forwards who can play different positions. 

‘He scored from the left wing, he’s so effective from the right, he can still be a No 9 and centre forward, he’s a natural footballer.

Solskjaer wants attackers interchanging up front and Greenwood can shoulder that burden

‘You can see the forwards we’ve got into the team with Mason, Jadon, Marcus, Anthony Martial and Donny van de Beek. Edinson is probably the only player who is fixed in one position.’

Solskjaer draws comparisons with United’s 2008 Champions League-winning team and its fluid forward line of Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez.

He wants quick, mobile, interchangeable attackers and his young No 11 fits the bill perfectly. No longer a boy, the expectations will continue to grow. But Greenwood is good enough – and big enough now – to shoulder that burden.

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