The stories surrounding Mason Greenwood will not relent and perhaps, as a football-loving public, nobody should be surprised.
There is always one talented English youngster who bears the brunt in the media for a time and it appears to be the turn of the Manchester United forward right now.
The announcement of the recent England squad for games against Republic of Ireland, Belgium and Iceland was always going to throw the 19-year-old’s name back into the headlines; especially as he was conspicuous by his absence from United’s 3-1 win over Everton, though Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed that was due to illness.
But the fact Gareth Southgate has picked Man City star Phil Foden, who was disciplined along with Greenwood after they broke Covid-19 protocols in Iceland while on Three Lions duty, does not help the United star. The Old Trafford club, however, will be happy to keep Greenwood around Carrington for the next fortnight and get him fit and well to return to his best after the international break.
Solskjaer denied any kind of discipline problem with Greenwood earlier this month when asked if the player had made himself a target for criticism.
“You do when you play well and I’m not concerned at all with Mason making a target of himself, because he came in, played fantastic, played against Tottenham in [his] first league game [last December], was brilliant, and kicked on,” Solskjaer said. “Yeah he made a mistake with England and suddenly the whole English press go after him and that’s something we have got to look after. He’s a fantastic boy to work with.
“He’s got a good family behind him, he has had a good background in the academy and he’s a good trainer, he trains really well.
“We have a great record, tradition and history of bringing our players through. That means from early on you get good habits, we trust you, you can express yourselves. Mason’s come through this programme, he has done fantastic and he will be kicking on I’m sure, of course he’s a very exciting boy to work with.”
Solskjaer was right to stand by Greenwood and it’s hardly a huge bump in the road for the youngster in any case. Let’s not forget the terrific goal he scored in United’s 5-0 destruction of RB Leipzig, while he also found the net in a 3-0 win over Luton earlier this season too. His league form hasn’t hit the heights he reached after the lockdown last season, but time has always been on Greenwood’s side and he’s hardly been in poor form.
United entered the international break by winning what was arguably their most important match of the season at Everton on Saturday.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was under pressure following dire performances in the defeats to Arsenal and Istanbul Basaksehir, and in the lower half of the Premier League table.
But, as has happened so often, the Reds responded by coming from behind to beat the Toffees thanks to Bruno Fernandes’ double and Edinson Cavani’s first goal for United.
United have a two-week break with many of their stars heading off on international duty – we’ll be keeping tabs on how they all perform, and on preparations for their next Premier League match against West Brom.
For all the latest United news delivered straight to your inbox, sign up to our daily newsletter by submitting your email address in the sign-up box above, or click here – it’s free and it only takes a few seconds.
In fact, that spell following Project Restart showed just why Greenwood is a superb professional, and why United have got it right with him. He returned after a three-month break as a stronger, fitter and meaner footballer. He’d shaven his head but he’d also bulked up, adding 3kg of muscle in his biceps, triceps, and quads while football was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Greenwood proceeded to plunder five goals to help United finish third, nailing down a regular spot in Solskjaer’s first-choice team and taking his overall tally to 17 goals in a debut senior campaign. You cannot do that on talent alone. It takes hard work too.
No wonder Solskjaer is defending him. He and United have the ideal plan for Greenwood’s development and that is unlikely to change as a result of a few newspaper stories.