Mason Greenwood’s breakthrough season has been one of few bright lights in a topsy-turvy campaign for The Red Devil’s so far. His goals have brought smiles to the faces of Manchester United fans across the world, and along with Marcus Rashford, he’s almost definitely destined to be the future of the clubs’ front line. There has, however, been mumblings of discontent with his starting position mainly being out on the right.
For the youth squads in recent years, he has led the line with class and the prowess of a natural seasoned professional. In 32 appearances for United, at first team and youth level last season, he scored 30 goals and assisted a further 12. With more than one goal contribution per game, he was thought highly of and given his first team debut by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer against Arsenal at The Emirates at only 17-years-old.
The summer signing of Daniel James was made to add some depth to the squad, but the Welshman mad a blistering start to life in Manchester. Solskjaer admitted he only planned to use him for 10-15 games, but his performances meant he couldn’t be left out. Coinciding with Martial making the central striker position his own, this meant Greenwood was left to battle it out with James on the right.
The two are in constant rotation, with their differing styles of play being utilised in different matches. Greenwood’s more technical and intricate approach to the attack means he’s more likely to be used against teams that will sit deeper. Whereas Daniel James’ more all action, counter attacking style has been more effective when United have been forced to sit back and soak up pressure.
But will this slow the progress of Greenwood? No, all the game time he gets is vital to his conditioning within the squad and crucial in his physical and mental development. The young Englishman has grown and developed through the academy playing primarily through the middle. He’s a specialist striker. Solskjaer hailed him as the best finisher at United, ahead of both Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.
Greenwood has also been compared to former striker Robin van Persie, by the man himself. His running style, dribbling ability and the way he strikes the ball have all been likened to the Dutchman. Of course, he operated centrally, but with Greenwood in the early stages of his career, it’s only a matter of time before he makes his favoured position his own in the first team.
The 18-year-old has played a handful of games up front in the absence of Anthony Martial, but only in the absence of the Frenchman. During matches when Martial, Rashford and Greenwood are playing as the front three, it’s not uncommon for them to interchange positions throughout, creating space and dragging defenders when they do so.
A few years down the line, or maybe even sooner, it is more than likely he will have developed physically and technically, becoming one of the best strikers and finishers in the country and maybe even Europe. Only time will tell. If he carries on his impressive form this season, he will finish this season in double digits for goals and assists, which is a very impressive feat for someone of his age, especially as a rotation option.
Written by Anton Brooks