Ranking Manchester United’s best front three

With the homecoming of Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani opting to stay another year at the club, Manchester United have a plethora of options offensively. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a crucial job in identifying what his best front three will be to go into the rest of this season and how to keep the squad well rotated as well as maintaining the high quality throughout the team.

In previous seasons, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood/Daniel James has been the main attacking trio. But with the departure of James, the injury to Rashford and the loss of form of Martial, United’s current attack could look far different. Solskjaer has many options to choose from as especially last season with Martial’s inconsistency and Cavani’s superb form, Solskjaer looked to play Paul Pogba off the left wing so he could have more effect offensively. 

Thus, Solskjaer has even more versatility upfront especially with the signing of Jadon Sancho to add to the mix. The key thing for Solskjaer and his coaches is finding the right balance. On paper an attack can look strong but without balance and chemistry it won’t work. Since Bruno Fernandes’ signing, United have heavily relied on individual brilliance to get over the line, and in some games that is important but the constant need for the result to be secured as a result of a moment of magic is unsustainable. 

Therefore, Solskjaer must make sure the front three he opts with will have the right blend to create the right rhythm and impetus in their attacking play. With all the options Solskjaer has and the varying attributes each player has, it’s likely he will look to use different front threes in different games suited to the opposition. 

Against the big teams, Solskjaer has opted to use a pacey front three that could expose the oppositions defence on the counter-attack. The best front three fitted to that would be Rashford, Ronaldo and either Sancho or Greenwood. With Rashford’s successful surgery, he’ll be looking to get back into the first team by October and with his blistering speed he can humiliate defences especially if he has space to run into. 

Despite Ronaldo’s age, he still has some good speed in him and with Martial losing a couple yards of pace recently, and Cavani not being renowned for his pace, Ronaldo would provide the best balance to sustain this counter-attack. Off the right wing it’s a trickier decision as both Sancho and Greenwood are fast. Greenwood brings lethal finishing as he cuts in off the right whereas Sancho provides a more creative option with his silky dribbling and precise vision. 

As Ronaldo is a pure finisher and Rashford is more of a shooter rather than a creator, Sancho may fit this front three better as he provides the balance of finishing with that creative aspect, whereas Greenwood would make that front three quite predictable as they all would look to shoot and thus Rashford, Ronaldo and Sancho would be the best front three for a counter attacking game.

In games when the opposition sit back, it will need a mix of creativity but also the right finishers to take the few chances they get. With Fernandes’ unique ability to score lots of goals from midfield, Solskjaer could look to give him license to shoot with Ronaldo in-front of him creating the Portuguese linkup and then have Pogba off the left and Sancho off the right. 

Often when playing against the defensive teams, United struggle to create many chances but with Sancho, Pogba and Fernandes’ creativity it would be more effective at breaking down the ‘low block’ and with a lethal goalscorer in Ronaldo he will take the chances that are provided.

In some games its neither pure counter-attack or pure offense against low block, it has elements of both. Often, we’ve seen this against teams like Southampton, Wolves, Aston Villa and Brighton. These teams won’t go fully at you but will press high and won’t sit back. To combat this, Solskjaer should implement that pace on the counter-attack but also that high technical ability and thus should use Rashford off the left, Ronaldo through the middle and Sancho off the right. 

In all these teams, form is important and currently Greenwood is un-droppable, but due to his unbelievable finishing, this can be exploited late in a game off the bench when the opposition is more penned in.  The balance between Rashford’s direct running and speed with Sancho’s quality weight of pass and dribbling should provide a solid counter-attack but also enough if the game adapts to a low block and United will be able to break it down.

Ultimately, I think the front three is very dependent on the opposition as each forward has different qualities. Although Cavani doesn’t start in any of these, he like Greenwood could be very impactful off the bench and provide those trademark runs to find space and take a game and win it individually. 

Ronaldo’s signing provides proven quality in the box which will be influential throughout and then the alternation between Pogba, Rashford, Greenwood and Sancho on the wings will create pivotal squad depth and tactical flexibility for Solskjaer to ensure he has the right options to win the game to take United back to winning silverware.

Written by Ethan Bents

Mason Greenwood: A future Manchester United legend?

At Manchester United, the club is built on breeding youngsters through the academy and giving them a chance in the first team to see if they can become a star, with Mason Greenwood it’s not different. Greenwood is a 19-year-old ambidextrous prodigy, with remarkable finishing prowess for someone of his age. He’s been at the club since 2018, progressing significantly since then. He made his debut for United in that famous night in Paris in 2019, and has made 104 appearances since then.

He’s scored 29 goals with a remarkable debut Premier League season in which he scored 10 goals, ranking him the joint second highest ever scorer in one league campaign for an U18 in Premier League history. In addition, recently after scoring in a 3-1 win against Aston Villa, Greenwood became the highest scoring teenager in Manchester United’s history which is incredibly impressive due to the names that he has surpassed like Cristiano Ronaldo. Greenwood has predominantly played off the right wing despite being a more natural striker, but the lack of natural wingers at the club especially off the right has meant Greenwood has had to adapt to being a winger to get into the team.

Private Life

There is undoubted talent easy to see with Greenwood, but with highly rated youngsters like Ravel Morrison unable to maintain the right mentality for Premier League football there is always a doubt that the pressure could get to them to young and with the brutal English media against you there can sometimes be no way back. In Autumn of 2020, Greenwood was called up to England’s international team, but out there he was involved in an irresponsible scandal resulting in him losing his place in the England team. In the meantime, Greenwood lost a close friend to suicide and all this led to him being out of the United reckoning for a couple months. 

Furthermore, in October and November he picked up knocks reducing his gametime further. The start to the 2020/21 season was troubled for Greenwood but to those who doubted his resilience after a bad period, Greenwood in the latter stages of the season came back firing. In the league, he managed to score six goals and one assist in six games. The defining factor to if Greenwood makes it far in his career is his mentality, if he loses his hunger to improve, he won’t become the player he could, but this spark in form in the latter ends of the season could be the evidence of him proving his critics wrong.

His Rise

When Greenwood joined in 2018, he was immediately placed in the U18’s where he scored 31 goals and nine assists in 30 games. As a result of this brilliant form, Greenwood was then placed in the U23’s where he scored four and assisted two in seven games. His first team debut came in a thrilling night in Paris with an injury dampened United looking to overturn a heavy deficit away in Paris. United did just this and Greenwood even get some minutes to show for it. He gained three Premier League appearances in the 2018/19 season with ten minutes against Arsenal, fifteen against West Ham and then he was given his first start against Cardiff on the final day of the season.

Greenwood didn’t manage to score that day but he came close and his talent was clear to be seen. In the 19/20 season he became a much more solidified member of the first team as he featured in most Premier League games either off the bench or starting. His post lockdown form was electric scoring five goals and assisting one, heavily contributing to United’s comeback for top four and eventual securing of third position. This late form fully established Greenwood as not only a fan favourite but also as a first teamer for sure.

Similarly, Greenwood’s 2020/21 season started off slowly but gradually improved towards the end. This inconsistency could prove to be an issue for Greenwood, but he’s only 19 years old and has had as mentioned various troubles behind the scene which limit his ability to play with a free mindset. Therefore, his first two seasons in the first team have undoubtedly been a success as he’s played a lot of first team football for a man of his age edging out Daniel James who is a more experienced option.

As a player Greenwood has many strengths but also weaknesses. He’s got a unique ability to strike the ball with either foot leaving defenders unsure as to which foot Greenwood will shoot off making him unpredictable. He’s got great pace, and silky dribbling helping him get out of tight and difficult scenarios. Greenwood’s hold up play has seen a significant improvement in the 2020/21 season so despite not scoring as many his all-round play has improved.

Another aspect of Greenwood’s game that has improved is his crossing; due to Solskjaer’s need for him to play in the right-wing position and the introduction of Edinson Cavani upfront, Greenwood has been expected to put more crosses into the box for Cavani rather then just looking to shoot as he often does. As a result, Greenwood has clearly been putting practice in on the training ground, as although he hasn’t got many assists its clear in his game, he’s looking more eager to cross and putting some lovely balls into the box for Cavani to meet.

Another strength of Greenwood’s is his work rate, some wingers can be susceptible to not tracking back and helping the team but Greenwood always gives it his all and tracks back to provide extra support. However, as a young 19-year-old should he does have weaknesses. One major weakness can be decision making. Decision making is a pivotal aspect of a winger’s game as they must analyse whether its better to cross or shoot, often Greenwood can be susceptible to shooting as that’s what he’s comfortable doing rather then looking for the pass in which a teammate might be in a better position to shoot or continue building up the play.

This can hinder his game as he can make the wrong decisions, so Greenwood must work on the training ground on his decision making as he has a good footballing brain so adding that to his locker will make him even better. Linked to this is selfishness, as he is so good at shooting, he can be selfish and look to score himself often which as the winger in the team he needs to lower the frequency of this in his game. Another area of weakness in Greenwood’s game is impact.

Some games can pass Greenwood by as if he doesn’t get himself in a shooting position, he can become wasted and with his inexperience as a winger the linkup with Aaron Wan Bissaka can be ineffective leaving the right-hand side as obsolete and meaning United rely heavily off the left which becomes predictable and easy to defend against. Therefore, for Greenwood to improve and take his game to the next level, he must focus on improving his decision making so in the crucial moments he isn’t selfish and shoots for himself but looks to see if teammates are in a better position and then make a judgement.

Furthermore, Greenwood must improve his linkup play with Wan Bissaka if he is to become a successful winger. This is because he plays with a striker’s instincts, always looking to cut in and Wan Bissaka’s strengths do not lye in attack which can make the right side weak and easily defended leaving the team in-balanced which fundamentally hinders the team as oppositional teams can approach the games heavily marking our left and stronger side neutralising that and ultimately neutralising the whole attack.

Then finally, I feel Greenwood needs to learn to score the scrappy goals and also work on his heading. If he becomes a centre forward or a winger, I feel Greenwood needs to work on scoring the scrappy goals as anticipation as striker is pivotal to picking up the high goal tallies. Then, heading is a fundamental part of a striker’s game and if Greenwood develops a strong heading game, he can use this to his advantage and pick up many more goals. 

The last big asking point about Greenwood is his position. He is a natural striker but is playing most of his football as a right winger. Manchester United, have just brought in Jadon Sancho who is an established winger comfortable of playing on both sides, and with Marcus Rashford as United’s left winger it could leave Greenwood struggling to get into the team. However, competition for places will mean Greenwood works harder and with a long season ahead his minutes played shouldn’t be an issue.

The question is where does Solskjaer see Greenwood’s future? Cavani isn’t getting any younger and will most likely be gone by 2022, and so with Martials inconsistency a first-choice striker could become needed at United. Could Solskjaer look to use Cavani this season to develop him as striker before giving him the chance to be the starting striker in Solskjaer’s team in the 2022/23 season? If he does this, and it is successful it would leave United in a much-strengthened position not needing to spend big on a striker in the transfer window, reserving finances for other positions deemed necessary.

But if Solskjaer sees him as a right winger, then United may look to bring in a striker and then look to gradually ease out players like Daniel James and Juan Mata who aren’t on the same level as the more talented wingers at the club. Therefore, I feel Solskjaer has a big decision to make this year in the development of the talented Greenwood as the position he uptakes could drastically change the outlook at United in 12 months’ time.

Overall, I feel Greenwood is incredibly talented but he cannot let his talent go to waste and thus needs to work very hard over the next twelve months to develop himself further potentially cementing himself as one of the first names on the team sheet.

Written by Ethan Bents

Former Manchester United striker makes ‘very scary’ prediction about Mason Greenwood

Former Manchester United striker Louis Saha has warned Premier League rivals that Mason Greenwood will develop into a ‘very scary player’. The 18-year-old arrived on the scene earlier this season as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gave him the opportunity to show his worth at the Old Trafford club. The player had already scored 12 goals for United at the time the season was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic and returned to training with a lot more muscle, which has led to his developing a bit more.

In total during the 2019/20 season, Greenwood made a total of 49 appearances for United’s first team, scoring 17 goals and five assists – playing two more matches at U23 level, scoring two goals. The academy graduate quickly established himself in the clubs first team and fought for his place in the team, which was a battle he won towards the end of the season, despite fatigue setting in due to so many matches being played in a short space of time.

Saha has stated that Greenwood had ‘frightening potential’ which will be something the teenager will be proud of as he relaxes after United’s season ended on Sunday, albeit with a defeat to Sevilla in the semi-final of the UEFA Europa League. United are set to find out how their 2020/21 Premier League season will pan out on Thursday as the provisional fixture are released with the first team getting ready to take holidays of relax ahead of the new season that is set to start next month.

Greenwood is obviously at the start of his career, which could be a bright now at the Old Trafford club. He has bags of potential and is a player that wants to fight for the spoils and win trophies with the club, which is what all of the other players will want too. This season, despite ending in disappointment, has led to many positives ahead of a new era at the club, led by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Saha, speaking to the Football Index podcast and reported by The Mirror, said:

“Mason Greenwood has frightening potential. He is already a very good player and his finishing is incredible. If he continues to improve, wow.

“The biggest improvement of his game has been on the physical side. Greenwood is only going to become tougher and fitter as he gets older, it’s incredible to think what he is capable of as just a teenager.

“I can only see Greenwood’s finishing continuing to get better and he is going to be a very scary player in the Premier League.

“He’s very self-confident and doesn’t hesitate about shooting again if he has missed a chance, he has all the attributes to be a big success story for Manchester United.

“The only question mark is about consistency and whether he will be able to perform at a similar level next season, but I’m very confident that he will.”

Greenwood has played 53 times for United now, with four appearances added at the end of the 2018/19 season at the club, scoring 17 goals and five assists, which is a good rate for the rookie, especially in his first full season at the club. If Greenwood can aim for 20 goals during the 2020/21 season, aiming to score at least five in the UEFA Champions League, which will be the first time he has played in the competition, his progress will keep heading in the right direction. Solskjaer would obviously like to see all of his forwards score goals in the double figures, which will contribute greatly to get United back on the trail to success.

Written by John Walker

Robin van Persie heaps praise on Mason Greenwood, who has been likened to the Dutchman

Former Manchester United striker Robin van Persie has heaped praise on forward Mason Greenwood after his great start to his career at the club this season. The Dutchman has stated that Greenwood, 18, is playing better than he did at the same age. That is some confidence boosting comment from a player in which the teenager has been likened to in the past year or so. Greenwood and Van Persie share the same style of play with Greenwood able to hit with both feet, something he has shown this season.

Back in 2004, Van Persie signed for Arsenal as an 18-year-old, scoring 10 goals in his first season, seeing limited time on the pitch during that season. Soon though, the Dutchman was showing glimpses of the player that he was going to become, which is what Greenwood is doing now. Greenwood has scored 10 goals in the Premier League alone this season, scoring seven more in other competitions; five in the UEFA Europa League and one in each of the Emirates FA Cup and the Carabao Cup. At youth level, Greenwood also has two goals in two appearances at U23 level.

It is good for the 18-year-old to be praised by players who have literally done what he has at the same age as it will raise his confidence, even though that seems to be high at this moment in time. The player will know that he is heading in the right direction and could see reward for all of his hard work in the very near future. United earned a UEFA Europa League semi-final against Sevilla by beating FC Copenhagen on Monday evening, which could see United earn a final place, if they beat the Spanish side.

The Dutchman left United in the summer of 2012 and despite rumours at the time suggesting that Arsenal wanted to keep the player, he confirmed recently that he was not offered a new contract so decided to sign for United and play under Sir Alex Ferguson in what was his final season in charge of the club, promptly announcing his retirement before the final match of the season, which shocked everyone. Van Persie made a total of 105 appearances for United, scoring 58 goals and 21 assists. Speaking to Enterprise Rent-A-Car and reported by The Mirror, Van Persie said:

“When I watch him play, it just brings a big smile to my face. He’s deadly with his finishing. The way he finishes is very unique. He’s 18 years old! As a young kid, I didn’t score many goals when I was 18 so Mason Greenwood is definitely doing better at 18 than me.”

The Dutchman also underlined the work of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the rise of Greenwood this season, which is something that many will miss. Some supporters seem to have an agenda against Solskjaer and no matter what he does, they will always want serial winner, Mauricio Pochettino – who has won nothing as he is the better manager, apparently. With United facing Sevilla on Sunday, Van Persie has also talked up his former clubs chances of success in the competition, the same competition the club won in the 2016/17 season only this season, they have already guaranteed their place in the UEFA Champions League. Van Persie said:

“Solskjaer makes Greenwood one of the main guys and that is what you want. You want that coming from the coach.

“And Solskjaer gives that to Bruno Fernandes, to Paul Pogba, to Mason Greenwood, to Marcus Rashford, to Anthony Martial and you can see these guys blossom with that, they love it.

“They have more control, they’re more bossing games and everyone knows that you have to be consistent if you want to be competing for trophies.

“They are more consistent now and if they keep doing that they are definitely contenders.”

Written by John Walker

Mason Greenwood looking for Europa League glory after watching 2017 final

Manchester United forward Mason Greenwood was just 15 when Jose Mourinho guided the club to lifting the UEFA Europa League at the end of the 2016/17 season, which was the first time the club had won the trophy, completing the haul of trophies that the club had competed for in the history of it’s existence. The teenager was sat on his parents’ sofa watching his team beat Ajax 2-0 in Sweden, a game which Marcos Rojo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic both missed due to knee injuries.

Fast forward three years and the teenager is now starting regularly for United, under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer now and they have reached the quarter-final stage of the competition, facing FC Copenhagen in Cologne on Monday evening, for a place in the semi-final, which will be played in the same stadium, as will the final. The season, Greenwood has risen highly, scoring 17 goals and five assists in his first full season in the first team, showing his class and ability as a forward for the club.

Greenwood has reflected on what he saw three years ago, which was United’s opportunity to earn a UEFA Champions League place the following season, after finishing sixth in the Premier League. At the time it was seen as the club stepping forward after they had won the Emirates FA Cup in the previous season, under Louis van Gaal, then winning the FA Community Shield at the start of Mourinho’s debut season, also lifting the Carabao Cup before finishing the season on a high. Greenwood, reported by The Mirror, spoke about the Europa League final, saying:

“Yeah, I remember. It was a good game. I was at home watching it with my parents and obviously we celebrated when we won.

“To have the chance to play in it myself and win it myself, I can make that dream come true.”

When United won the Europa League back in 2017, it was only a year after Marcus Rashford made his debut in the first team, replacing an injured Anthony Martial in the competition, the prior season, against FC Midtjylland. United lost 2-1 in the first leg of the round of 32 and needed a win to avoid embarrassment. Rashford announced himself on the world stage with a brace in the 5-1 victory, doing the same against Arsenal in the Premier League days later. Greenwood will be seeking to follow his teammates footsteps by lifting the trophy, but will need to help his team bean another Danish side first. Greenwood stated:

“When you see the other players doing it, you’re thinking in the academy ‘Why can’t I do it?’

“That’s every young boy’s dream in the academy: to get to the first team and be a regular at United.

“It’s the best thing you can do at this club. I’m doing it now and I’ve just got to keep staying level-headed and carry on working hard because I’ve got a long way to go yet.

“You can always get better, you can always go the extra mile. There’s no stopping, you can always be a better player.

“At this club, you’ve got some of the best players in the world, so that speaks for itself.”

Greenwood is such a good finisher, with Solskjaer suggesting that he is the best finisher of the club. But the player was asked what he would like to improve and his response will leave people thirsty for more – not his opposition though. The player has been compared to Robin van Persie in the recent past and if he can finish goals like the Dutch legend, especially with his head, he will be an awesome player in the years to come. Greenwood confirmed:

“I think in headed goals. I’ve not scored a headed goal in the first team this season. It would be nice to get one of them.”

Written by John Walker

Mason Greenwood tipped to break Premier League goalscoring record by Alan Shearer

Manchester United teenage sensation Mason Greenwood has been tipped to break records in the Premier League during his career at the Old Trafford club. The 18-year-old scored his 17th goal of the season as United equalised against West Ham United in the final league match of the season at the Theatre of Dreams on Wednesday evening. It allowed the player to continue a season which has been good for him. Back in August 2019, nobody would have though the player would have been this good.

The teenager made his 50th appearance for United against the Hammers, making a total of 46 appearances for the club this season and four last season. He has, so far, scored 17 goals and five assists, a total of 22 goal contributions this season making him involved in a goal, either scoring or assisting every 0.48 matches – which is a good ration at this stage of his career. The 18-year-old is clearly destined for great things in the future, as long as he continues to develop the way he has been doing.

The goal against the Hammer became his tenth goal in the Premier League this season, in 30 appearances. It has been suggested by The Sun that Greenwood will earn himself a new contract at United this summer which could be worth £40,000 per week, which is because of his rise through the ranks from the academy, performing on the world’s stage with such aplomb. It is good to see a player of Greenwood’s calibre come through the clubs academy. It is exciting to watch.

Alan Shearer, the holder of the record for the most Premier League goals – 260, has suggested that Greenwood could be the player to break that record, which has been held by the former Southampton, Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United striker since the formation of the Premier League (1992/93 season) to the season he retired (2005/06 season). Only Wayne Rooney has come close to Shearer’s achievement, scoring 208 goals in the league. Speaking on Match of the Day and reported by The Sun, Shearer said:

“A potential superstar. I respect the power, he can do it with his left or right foot. He gets it away early and the goalkeepers have no chance.

“I think in 12 or 13 years time we could be talking about the Premier League record goalscorer.

“I know there’s so many things that can happen in your career but I think he’s that good. He’s 18 years of age, he’s going to get bigger, he’s going to get better.”

Granted, it is a premature thing to be saying but Shearer, just like anyone else, is entitled to his opinion on the matter. It shows that he clearly sees the instinctive ability of a striker in the 18-year-old and Greenwood should take this as a compliment. Greenwood has chalked ten goals in the league so far so will required 250 more in the Premier League alone to match Shearer’s record. The Newcastle legend suggested that in 12-13 years he could break the record, say it is 12 years, Greenwood would need to score around 21 goals a season in the league alone to break that record. That would be some achievement for the player.

Written by John Walker

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer finds the key to success for his front three with Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood in with the goals this season

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be very happy with his squad at this moment in time for what they have achieved on the pitch since the Premier League restart. His squad has thrilled with their attacking endeavours with Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood providing 56 goals and 21 assists in all competitions.

United are currently on a 17-match unbeaten run and will go against at Old Trafford when they welcome Southampton in the Premier League on Monday evening. United have something to achieve in this match, not only stretching their unbeaten run to 18 matches but to break into the top four of the Premier League, leapfrogging Chelsea and Leicester City.

Both clubs lost this weekend in humiliating fashion, Chelsea lost 3-0 to Sheffield United with Leicester losing 4-1 to Bournemouth. If United can take advantage of this, they could be third later this evening with advantage ahead of their rivals, now that Manchester City’s ban in European competition has been reversed after appeal.

United seem to be playing free-flow attacking football at this time, which is all I have ever wanted to see since Sir Alex Ferguson retired at the end of the 2012/13 season. Some suggest a degree of attacking freedom is the reason for this. However, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says differently with a strict framework across the front three of his team.

Both Rashford and Martial have scored 20 goals this season, both reaching their best ever season for United with teenage attacker Greenwood scoring 16 goals so far, four of them in United’s last three matches alone. Solskjaer was asked about the trio, how they rotate and if they are modelled on Barcelona trio Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Neymar. Solskjaer said:

“It’s not new for United! Did you not watch Rooney, Ronaldo and Tevez when they were playing when Sir Alex gave them some freedom?

“Within a framework and structure, we do work a lot on patterns and positions and where we want the players to be, but within that we understand that you might pop up on the right or the left or be in different positions, but we have to fill different positions.

“There has been too much, last year, sometimes this year, players want to gravitate over to the left, and go on there and play tippy-tappy football.

“That is something we wanted to get rid of, and we have been more progressive and more disciplined in our positions.”

United have just four matches to play in the Premier League, including Monday’s match with Southampton. They play again on Thursday, travelling to London to face Crystal Palace before their Emirates FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea on Sunday. Then, to complete the domestic season, a visit to Old Trafford for West Ham United before United face Leicester City away on the final day fo the season.

Mason Greenwood has forced Ole Gunnar Solskjaer into changing Manchester United’s transfer plans this summer

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has admitted that the clubs transfer plans have changed because of Mason Greenwood’s impressive form this season. The 18-year-old has risen to the challenge of playing for United, scoring 16 goals and five assists in 42 appearances for the club so far this season, which shows the meteoric rise of the teenager.

In the past three Premier League matches, Greenwood has scored four goals; once against Brighton and Hove Albion (also registering an assist), a brace against Bournemouth and lastly against Aston Villa. United are on a 17 match unbeaten run and have a great chance of breaking into the top four against Southampton on Monday evening.

Both Chelsea (3-0 defeat to Sheffield United) and Leicester City (4-1 defeat to Bournemouth) lost this weekend, giving United the chance to go third in the Premier League with a victory over the Saints at Old Trafford on Monday evening, which will impress the United manager and the clubs supporters, after a turbulent season.

United have been linked to many attacking players ahead of the summer transfer window with Jadon Sancho or Borussia Dortmund the player most hotly linked to the club but Solskjaer has suggested that United will not make signings that would hinder the development of the 18-year-old, which could be a great decision this summer. Solskjaer said:

“I don’t think you can expect six players coming in – I know there won’t be six players coming in. We can’t just take players in because we need a body.

“Mason Greenwood is a player for me – he is 18 and I want to give him the chance to become a top player at this club.

“It’s the same with Marcus Rashford at 22 and Diogo Dalot at 20. These players are going to get a chance and that is going to affect players who are at the other end of their careers.

“It means you don’t want too many changes with signings and you have to say to players at the other end of their careers: ‘I don’t think you’re for me’.”

Greenwood recently signed a new contract at United back in October 2019, signing until the summer of 2023, although there is the option of a further year to be added, which ties him down for four more years in effect. It was recently reported that Juventus has tried to sign the player last summer with Greenwood seemingly rejecting that to remain at United, which has so far seemed to be a good decision by the player.

Could this mean that Solskjaer is no longer interested in signing Jadon Sancho or will he made the move for one marquee signing this summer? That is the question that everyone wants to know ahead of the summer transfer window opening, However, United have a task to fulfil first, completing the Premier League season and aiming to win a trophy with the Emirates FA Cup and the UEFA Europa League still options.

Mason Greenwood plan mapped out a year ago, comparison to Sergio Aguero and England scouting mission happening

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knew a year ago that Mason Greenwood was ready to take the Premier League by storm – in fact he did suggest just that and that he was going to give him regular opportunities to grow as a player this season, which is exactly what he has done. Greenwood has taken the league by storm.

On the first day of United’s pre-season tour of Australia, Solskjaer outlined his plans for Greenwood, then 17, and that he would play a key role in his squad this season, which is exactly what has happened. Now 18, Greenwood has paid back the confidence shown in him by the manager, recently scoring his 16th goal of the season.

The 18-year-old scored his fourth goal in three matches against Aston Villa on Thursday evening, scoring a brace against Bournemouth last weekend, with another goal and an assist against Brighton and Hove Albion in the match before it. George Best, Brian Kidd and Wayne Rooney all scored 17 goals in their debut seasons with United.

Greenwood is a clinical finisher and a player that Solskjaer sees as the best finisher at the club and in the past, he has been compared to former United striker Robin van Persie, which is a great compliment for the teenager. Manchester City’s Phil Foden has complimented Greenwood’s rise, comparing him to City striker Sergio Aguero, saying:

“Mason [Greenwood] is the best I’ve seen, finishing-wise. He’s both footed. In and around the box, he’s always going to score.”

In explaining the comparison to Aguero, the City youngster, taking the same meteoric rise across the city of Manchester, said:

“High up, finishing-wise. For his age, he’s unbelievable. I don’t know how he does it, to be honest.

“It’s just the right type of shot, you know what I mean? He just knows when to finesse or lace it and he shoots quickly, the keeper is never stable or set.”

United teammate, David De Gea, echoed Foden but gave a warning against putting too much pressure on the teenager, which is a great bit of advice, considering the praise people have been giving the player and when he’s on a goal drought, they will be sticking the boot in. De Gea said:

“He’s a great player, a top finisher. You don’t know if he’s left or right-footed and it’s great to see the kid scoring goals. But we have to have some patience with him because he’s young.”

United have gone 17 matches unbeaten and will be up against Southampton in the Premier League on Monday, seeking another victory to keep the pressure up on Leicester City, who are not the team that United are chasing, seeing as Chelsea have risen to third in the table. If Leicester slip up this weekend, United could take their chance.

England manager Gareth Southgate will cast his eye over Greenwood when United face Chelsea in the semi-final of the Emirates FA Cup next weekend with the manager set to cast his eye over Foden and Arsenal player, Bukayo Saka, which will be interesting for the trio. Greenwood is the player to watch at the moment though.

It is unknown when international football will resume because of the coronavirus pandemic and with the European Championships delayed until next summer, there will need to be a fair few matches played by England and other countries, which may cause a fixture pileup if the delay goes past the remainder of the year.

An England call-up for Greenwood was seemingly something that would be seen as premature a year ago but with the player stepping up to the plate and the fact that other England players might have played their last games for the country, the future being implemented by Southgate now would be good for the young players, who will be able to find their feet for their country after doing so for their clubs.

Manchester United are ‘the real deal’ and whoever finishes ahead of them next season ‘will win the league’ says Robbie Savage

Manchester United have seemingly started their rise in the Premier League to grasp a higher-placed finish this season with an aim to secure UEFA Champions League football next season, taking on Leicester City now to finish in fourth place, unless then can aim higher. In the past four matches, they have broken a record, which is a good thing.

United, led by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, have become the first Premier League team to win four matches in a row by scoring three or more goals in each match; beating Aston Villa, Brighton and Hove Albion and Sheffield United by 3-0 scorelines and beating Bournemouth 5-2, which has set the ball rolling for more improvement this season.

Former United academy star, Robbie Savage has written a complimentary article on his former team in The Mirror, in which he praised 18-year-old Mason Greenwood, who has hit 16 goals for the club this season, which could see the teenager match or even break a club record, providing he scores two or more goals this season. Savage said:

“Mason Greenwood is not just the future of English football and a phenomenal young talent.

“If he manages two more goals on the run-in for Manchester United, he will have scored more in his first season for the club as a teenager than George Best, Wayne Rooney and Brian Kidd.

“Greenwood has not just appeared from nowhere on the United conveyor belt. Inside the club, he has been earmarked as a bright prospect for some time.

“But 16 goals to date in his debut season at first team level speaks for itself. Greenwood is the real deal. He is being managed perfectly by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who is giving him due praise in public but reminding him to live his life the right way off the pitch.

Savage also talked about United’s interest in Jadon Sancho, which has been running for some time with significant developments in the fact that United have seemingly stated what they will pay with Borussia Dortmund stating what they would accept and various rumours impending from there. The context was about United attack with Sancho and Greenwood included, saying:

“And if United try to sign Jadon Sancho or Harry Kane in the transfer window, we could be watching England’s front three at Old Trafford next season: Sancho or Kane, Greenwood and Marcus Rashford.”

Savage also spoke about United next season, suggesting that whoever finished above them in the league will win the league, which makes you think about what he is saying. He complimented United’s form at this stage of the season but suggested that they need improvement to bring something to the league. Speaking about this, Savage said:

“United have been so impressive since football’s return from lockdown that I believe, with only two or three additions down the spine of the team, they are genuine top-two contenders next season.

“In fact, I will make this prediction: Whoever finishes above United in 2021 will win the title – especially if they strengthen the squad.

“I would go for Kalidou Koulibaly, the Napoli captain, because he would bring pace to the heart of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s back four.

“I would go for a playmaker to provide competition for Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba, who was absolutely majestic at Aston Villa on Thursday night – maybe Jack Grealish or James Maddison.

“And I would go for Sancho or Kane, which would send a signal to the rest of the Premier League: United are back in business.

“Obviously we can’t be sure, at this stage, how heavily the coronavirus pandemic has impacted on clubs’ spending power.

“But I get the impression Solskjaer is close to assembling an irresistible attacking force who can play with the swagger, intensity and tempo United fans have come to expect down the years.

“A front five of Fernandes, Pogba, Rashford, Greenwood and Kane or Sancho would take some stopping.

“As it is, Solskjaer has beaten Manchester City three times this season and one way or another I expect United to qualify for the Champions League next year – either through a top-four finish or by winning the Europa League.

“And they are free-scoring – the first team in Premier League history to win four consecutive games by a three-goal margin.”

copyright: JW