Mason Greenwood: The MUFC Academy Prodigy
Despite all the crisis on the field and off field issues between the fans and the owners of Manchester United, one thing that hasn’t changed is the quality of players that the club’s academy produces. He has received a lot of praise from fellow teammates, called “frightening” by Marcus Rashford, “unbelievable” by Luke Shaw and tipped to have a “very bright future” by Victor Lindelöf. A lot of senior players as well have heaped praise on his maturity and his attitude. His Robin van Persie like stride has got the supporters excited. As the highly paid flops depart Manchester United, there is a space that’s opened up for a new favourite to emerge and teenager Mason Greenwood fits the profile perfectly.
One of the top clubs in Europe to have consistently produced World Class players like Sir Bobby Charlton, Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Paul Pogba, Manchester United has never failed to live up to its expectations. Fast forward 2019, having sold one of their main goal scorers in Romelu Lukaku and loaned out Alexis Sanchez to Inter, who has had a disastrous spell at the red half of Manchester, current manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær who took over the vacant post of manager on 19th December following the sacking of Jose Mourinho has shown a lot of trust in the academy graduates, especially in recently turned 18 year old Mason Greenwood who he considers a better finisher than the current two experienced attacking options, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial and as one of the most clinical strikers he has ever seen.
Mason Greenwood- Talent or Prodigy?
Mason Greenwood is the 231st academy graduate to represent the club and is a very special talent. Being at the club from the age of 6, Mason progressed through the academy ranks. He joined the Manchester United U18 side at the age of 15 for the start of the 2017/2018 season. During this season, he made 21 appearances of which he had 17 starts, in which he scored 17 goals and contributed further 6 assists. What caught the eyes of those watching him was his ice-cold finishing in front of the goal at such a young age. He followed it up with another impressive season, playing for not just the U 18s but for the U 19s and U 23s as well. During the 2018/19 season, he made 44 appearances, scoring 46 goals and further contributing 13 assists, averaging 1.34 goal contributions per 90 minutes.
The standout performance being the hattrick he bagged versus Chelsea U 18 in the FA Youth Cup, enroute to a thrilling 4-3 win. And knocking them out of the competition after five and half years. He ended that season by winning the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award, given each year to the best player in the club’s youth teams.
Getting Into the First Team
He made his first non-competitive appearance for the first team during the pre-season tour of United States of America on 20 July 2018 versus Club America, coming on as a sub for Luke Shaw. He made his first ever competitive debut for Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16, in that famous comeback 3-1 win versus PSG at the Parc des Princes on the 87th minute to replace Ashley Young with the team looking for goals to win the tie and progress through. He became the youngest player to appear for Manchester United in the Champions League, aged 17 years and 156 days, breaking the record held by Gerard Pique (17y 310d).
He followed it up with his first Premier League appearance in the 2-0 defeat at the Emirates versus Arsenal. He was handed his first start on the final day of the season at Old Trafford in the 2-0 defeat to Cardiff City, which was his home debut as well. Despite the lackluster performance of the team, Mason was by far the best player on the pitch for the home team. He could easily have had 4 goals from the positions he got himself into. He clearly held his own by showing his ability to play at the highest level.
Along with being a calm, cold finisher in front of goal he has continued to score goals with both his feet, including freekicks and assists, the stand out ones being the freekicks versus Newcastle United U 18 and Liverpool U 18 where he scored two spectacular goals with his left and right foot respectively.
Mason turned ambidextrous once he injured his stronger right foot and when the doctor said he had slim chances of being as good as he was before, he made his left foot stronger. Such was his desire to return to playing that the injury turned out to be a boon in disguise.
By nature, Mason isn’t a traditional number 9 or just a fox in the box like Michael Owen or Ruud van Nistelrooy, he is a modern day attacker who can come in off the left, come in off the right , drop in between the lines, get involved in the buildup play and then get into the box. To add to his quality finishing and assisting capability. He has a good vision for a pass and is good with his back to the goal as well. During his time at the academy, he has played as a striker and as an attacking midfielder and down both the flanks as a left and a right winger.