Sir Alex Ferguson was right, the whole world will soon know Man United star Mason Greenwood’s namejuin 30, 2020
It was at a League Managers’ Association lunch three or four years ago that Sir Alex Ferguson first mentioned Mason Greenwood’s name to those at his table. ‘I think we have found one,’ said Ferguson.
The way Greenwood’s career trajectory has gone over the last 12 months, it will not be long before the whole world knows his name.
Marcus Rashford’s introduction at United in 2016 was notable. He scored twice on his debut in the Europa League. But Rashford’s progress, at least the speed of it, from that point surprised people a little. The pre-season before he arrived in the first team, he wasn’t even taken on the club’s pre-season tour by manager Louis van Gaal.
Mason Greenwood shone for Manchester United as they easily beat Brighton 3-0 on Tuesday
The United youngster scored the opening goal of the night against Brighton in Premier League
Greenwood is different. His star has been burning so brightly just below first team level for so long that the rate at which he has shot to prominence over the last year or so has shocked absolutely nobody.
It is early in the 18-year-old’s career to make rash predictions. Things can get in the way. But it is a while since we have seen such a natural looking young English goal scorer. No wonder England manager Gareth Southgate is interested already.
In scoring his team’s first goal at the Amex on Tuesday night, we saw most of what we need to know about Greenwood. Already much of what he does is recognisable. He has habits and they tend to be good ones.
A lot of his 13 goals – six in the Premier League – this season have looked a little like this one. A direct run, a shot taken early. So many of this teenager’s shots are struck along the ground. So many creep in by the foot of a post by just a couple of inches. It cannot be coincidence.
It has been a while since we have seen such a natural looking young English goal scorer
Confidence means so much to a forward – Rashford seems short at the moment, for example – and Greenwood seems to have been born with it. Already at Old Trafford they say he reminds them of Robin van Persie in terms of the way he backs up defenders with straight direct running towards goal. If that sounds like a burden for a young player, it doesn’t seem to show. He has a habit of shooting through defenders legs, too, and his manager used to be quite good at that.
For Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Greenwood’s progress is fundamental to his team’s improving fortunes. The way the attacking midfielder Bruno Fernandes has impacted on United’s play has been much discussed but currently Solskjaer’s line-up has a front three that carries a threat too.
It will be some while before Anthony Martial can be trusted fully. The Frenchman came in to this game off a hat-trick and has talent. But he is inconsistent and goes missing when the team is struggling. When Solskjaer warned before the game that his forwards should take nothing for granted, it may be Martial who has most to lose in the long run.
Rashford, meanwhile, must improve his goal return. He is still only 22 and does not currently look match fit after a period of injury. Nevertheless, improvement will still need to come if he is to be a regular United player for the peak years of his career.
Marcus Rashford must improve his goal return with Greenwood breathing down his neck
It will not be long before the whole of the football world knows the 18-year-old’s name
He is part of a confident United side at the moment and that will help. Many more games against opposition as compliant as Brighton and that won’t change.
Brighton are the only team at the bottom of the table to have resumed their season with any kind of positivity, having beaten Arsenal at home and drawn at Leicester.
But Graham Potter’s team were awful here. Having argued so strongly against the proposed use of neutral venues during the lockdown, Brighton did not look like the home team. Passive and lacking energy from the first minute, the only signs of improvement they showed came in the early minutes of the second half.
That momentum was soon halted by a third United goal and Greenwood was involved in that, too. His lofted cross to Fernandes at the back post was superbly played.
It seems Ferguson was right all those years ago. He usually was.
Sir Alex Ferguson was right when he hyped up Greenwood three or four years ago