Manchester United’s 2018-19 season started within the unlikely environment of Glendale, Ariz. as Jose Mourinho’s aspect took on Membership America of Mexico. A soporific recreation ended 1-1 and was solely brightened up by younger substitutes, considered one of whom coaches imagine will be nearly as good as — if not higher — than Marcus Rashford.
“Did you get pleasure from that?” I requested Mason Greenwood as he walked via the blended zone towards the United crew bus. “Yeah!” he replied, smiling with childlike enthusiasm. Who may blame him, a 16-year-old dwelling the dream of taking part in for one of many world’s greatest golf equipment.
“Mason Greenwood has acquired the instruments to go proper to the highest of the sport and be a high participant for United and England,” says Danny Webber, who additionally got here via the United system and is a daily watcher of the membership’s youthful groups. “He is two-footed and might take set items with both foot. He is studying the centre-forward position correctly now and he is scoring plenty of targets, however he must be challenged.”
Greenwood, who celebrated his birthday on the primary of this month, has performed for the Underneath-18s and 19s within the UEFA Youth League this season, scoring in video games vs. Berne and Valencia. He nonetheless has some option to go, however what is obvious is that he seems to be far too good for his age group, the place he has scored seven targets in his final 4 video games.
“He went to an Underneath-20 event on the finish of final season and gained participant of the event,” Webber provides. “A participant like him does not come alongside fairly often and you have to maintain stimulating him and giving him challenges. He must maintain his head down, maintain the correct angle and work at his craft, however he is already acquired the stature. He is six foot; he is acquired a body just like Cristiano Ronaldo when he arrived at United. When Mason fills out that body he’ll have much more energy as a result of for the time being he’s doing it on skill.”
Greenwood is likely one of the few younger gamers from his membership concerned with England. No person from United was within the nationwide crew’s Underneath-16 squad that educated at St Georges Park in August, whereas Manchester Metropolis had 5 gamers and Chelsea three. A latest 50-strong Underneath-15s camp featured just one from United; Tottenham had eight, Chelsea 5 and Metropolis 4.
The Outdated Trafford youth system remains to be righting wrongs after a number of years of underinvestment, however the membership have saved maintain of Greenwood, regardless of quite a few suitors that included Man Metropolis. He was not too long ago given his first skilled contract and the cash concerned is important for him and his household.
Ben Thornley, an ex-United participant who got here via with the likes of David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville and was tipped for a shiny future earlier than he suffered a critical knee harm, has watched Greenwood recurrently.
“I like his vitality and velocity,” Thornley says about Greenwood. “I like the truth that I do not know which foot he favours; mixed along with his velocity that makes him a nightmare for defenders. He jogs my memory of Nicholas Anelka: quick, tall, slim, sturdy and might get a objective from nothing.
“Mason generally is a top-class participant if he retains studying and listening, however he already has the scale and temperament. He ought to quickly go as much as United’s Underneath-23s, who want a centre-forward. They have been relegated final season however they’re doing effectively this season. He would not be coming right into a struggling aspect and he’d enhance additional in opposition to higher gamers.”
United might be affected person however Greenwood is so extremely rated that phrase throughout the membership is that he’s more likely to work recurrently with the primary crew after Christmas. Though, whereas a back-up to Romelu Lukaku is required, it’s unlikely to be the teenage prospect.
“Mason is a incredible expertise,” says former United and Wales full-back Clayton Blackmore, who has coached Greenwood. “He performed off the entrance in United’s academy groups, who solely play one up entrance in a Four-Three-Three formation. Now he is a centre ahead. He is two-footed, however he takes penalties and free kicks along with his weaker foot and scores. It’s totally onerous to take a free kick out of your weaker foot from 25 yards.”
Proficient younger gamers have come alongside earlier than and the reality is that, whereas almost all ages group appears to have one and on the high golf equipment, most don’t fulfil huge expectation. Little greater than a decade in the past, for instance, Febian Brandy was profitable participant of the event as a 15-year-old and receiving bids for his expertise from Barcelona. He ended up sleeping on a good friend’s sofa and going unpaid in Greek soccer.
There are others: Federico Macheda regarded vastly thrilling at 17 when he was scoring very important winners for United’s first crew however, having not too long ago joined Panathinakos is on the 10th membership of his profession on the age of 27. James Wilson’s profession was stalled by harm; he’s on mortgage at Aberdeen having did not function underneath Mourinho.
Some younger stars do proceed to fly excessive — the Busby Babes, the Class of ’92 and, extra not too long ago, Gerard Pique, Paul Pogba and Giuseppe Rossi amongst them — however they want luck to keep away from the kind of career-damaging accidents that troubled Thornley and Wilson.
In addition they want a supervisor who trusts and performs them via the ups and the downs that have an effect on nearly each younger participant. Regardless of predictions on the contrary when he took cost, Mourinho has given probabilities to younger gamers and definitely way over his reverse quantity at Manchester Metropolis, Pep Guardiola.
However whereas a pure response from followers is to demand a participant like Greenwood be given his alternative, the timing needs to be proper and there are not any extra League Cup matches this season. Given his youth, although, he has loads of time.