The emergence of Mason Greenwood at Manchester United

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SOURCE: Photo, kane-brooker, CC BY 2.0

If Mason Greenwood’s current form in front of goal is a reliable yardstick, English football is in very safe hands. Greenwood notched his 16th goal of the season with a powerful right-foot strike in United’s all-too-easy 3-0 victory at relegation threatened Aston Villa. Only Wayne Rooney, George Best and Brian Kidd have scored more in a season as teenagers throughout United’s history, suggesting that Greenwood has the potential to become an Old Trafford legend.

In the post-match reaction following United’s defeat of Villa, boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted that he “cannot leave players out” like Greenwood that are always capable of scoring goals. Only three other players aged 18 have scored in three successive top-flight games before, namely Francis Jeffers, Danny Cadamarteri and Michael Owen. If Greenwood’s career is anywhere near as successful as the latter’s, he will certainly be onto a good thing. Greenwood’s form has seen United become a red-hot favourite to secure a top-four finish and a Champions League berth for the 2020/21 campaign. Paddy Power, which offers no shortage of EPL markets and free bets for new sign-ups, has cut United’s odds to finish in the top four to 2/9.

A rare two-footed finisher: Greenwood is a fearsome prospect

The most exciting aspect of Greenwood’s game is that no-one – other than him – knows what his strongest foot is. He’s been capable of scoring powerful strikes on his left and right feet, making him almost impossible for defenders to handle. Solskjaer has said that it is “up to [Greenwood]” when it comes to “how far he wants to go” in the game. As a natural, ice-cold finisher in front of goal, he is a much-needed addition to the United roster – and a cheap one at that considering he was developed by the Red Devils’ Academy.

Greenwood was nearly a Juve player

It could have been so different for Greenwood – and United – had last year’s eye-watering financial offer from Serie A giants Juventus been entertained. The Turin club were prepared to offer Greenwood and his loved ones “life-changing amounts of money” to entice the Manchester-born starlet to Italy. It was entirely possible that Greenwood had considered the deal. In 2019, Greenwood was nothing more than a bit-part player from the bench for Solskjaer.

However, following the departure of Romelu Lukaku to Inter last summer, Solskjaer opted to put his faith in Greenwood for the 2019/20 EPL campaign and Greenwood has repaid him in spades thus far. United have also managed to tie him down to a new four-year contract – signed in the fall of 2019 – which offers security for both the club and player. Things certainly seem to be clicking for United on the field since Project Restart. United’s 3-0 victory over Aston Villa saw them become the first side in EPL history to win four games back-to-back by a margin of at least three goals.

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SOURCE: Photo

Greenwood’s acceptance to play anywhere along the frontline has been a major boon for the teenager. Given his two-footed nature, it’s easy for him to play on either flank or through the middle, taking the heat off the likes of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford. This trio have become incredibly fluid of late and some are even beginning to compare them with Liverpool’s front three of Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané.

Greenwood’s high-end performances have also coincided with a return to form for French midfielder Paul Pogba. The 27-year-old has had a stop-start time at Old Trafford, but appears to be fully over his injury issues and back to his best, getting on the scoresheet himself at Villa. Pogba, who has been the subject of continued transfer speculation regarding prospective moves to Juventus and Real Madrid, reiterated that “Manchester is a big club” to indicate that he remains happy to play at Old Trafford. The arrival of Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon also appears to have re-energised Pogba, with the pair already gelling well. It all appears to be falling into place for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who was tipped to be given the boot at the end of this season. A large part of that turnaround has to be attributed to the emergence of Mason Greenwood.