Brandon and Mason living the dream at United
First-team chances come quickly for young players at Manchester United but Brandon Williams and Mason Greenwood are living the dream at Old Trafford.
In their first programme interview for United Review, ahead of Wednesday's Carabao Cup quarter-final tie with Colchester United, the homegrown Reds discussed just what it means to represent their boyhood club and the thrill of making an impression on the senior side as teenagers.
Certainly, something magical happened at Bramall Lane last month when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side were up against it at Sheffield United and trailing 2-0.
Williams slammed in a volley with his right foot to reduce the deficit and had to suppress the urge to celebrate, allowing himself a brief moment of arm-waving encouragement towards the away end as the adrenaline coursed through his veins. Greenwood's reaction to his first league strike was similarly selfless, focusing on the need to get the game restarted with the scores level. It said much of their mentality, the Manchester United mindset, and the character required at this level.
"It was very hard [not to celebrate] but I was focused on getting back because the main thing was we were back in the game," Williams told United Review. "We started off slowly and the first half wasn’t good enough and that goal just lifted everything and got us back into it. It was hard not to celebrate but I just knew we had a job to do.
"It was just one of those, where you hit it and know it’s in, so I just turned away and got back into position ready to start the game again.
"I think that [brief show of emotion] was just the excitement inside me. It was getting the fans going as well, as we knew, with that goal, Sheffield United were worried and then, obviously, Mason and Marcus [Rashford] scored."
Greenwood was also asked about his reaction and lack of outpouring of joy at such a cherished moment, adding to the list of competitions he has scored in this term with his maiden top-flight strike.
"Not really, no," he replied, when it was put to him that he did not celebrate. "It was just an unbelievable feeling inside though. I never thought me and Brandon would score in the same Premier League game on the same pitch. It was amazing to see Brandon score. Then for me to score as well, even though we drew [3-3] in the end, it was special as I’ve known him since we were little kids.
"I was on the bench and I was so happy for him to score. To come on and score myself was a double good feeling."
It felt like a big day for the friends but more has already followed very swiftly. Mason was entrusted to start in the win over Tottenham and, after a brace against AZ Alkmaar, bagged the equaliser against Everton at the weekend, while Brandon clearly remains firmly in Ole's plans and is pushing hard for inclusion against Colchester, despite the return to fitness of Luke Shaw.
"It makes you feel good knowing you’ve actually played against Tottenham Hotspur in a Premier League game, and started," said Greenwood. "It helps your belief.
"Tottenham was probably my hardest game so far. I found myself in pockets though and was getting on the ball in space and turning and running and passing. It was a bit of both and it was hard sometimes but, at other times, it was okay, I would say. We were working hard for each other and got the win. We deserved it as well.
"Obviously, it’s tough playing at the top level but it’s good to have all the other lads helping you out on the pitch. It’s like you never feel alone. If you make a mistake, it’s okay because everyone makes mistakes. I would say all the other lads help you; before the game, they are geeing you up and everything.
"I sit next to Juan [Mata], Dan James and Anthony Martial in the dressing room so they are the main ones, who help me out a lot. But all the lads are really nice and helpful."
Williams cites Chelsea's Pedro as his toughest opponent yet but the experience of beating the Blues in the previous round of the competition has fuelled the desire to lift the Carabao Cup this season.
"I think I will always remember this competition as it’s when I made my senior debut. I just want to go on and win it now," stressed Williams. Greenwood agreed, adding: "It’d be amazing. Lots of Academy lads have taken part in this cup so far, the Europa League and the Premier League too. It’d be amazing if we can win something as a team."
Yet Mason had a word of warning about Colchester, who have already knocked Tottenham and Crystal Palace out, en route to the last eight.
"They’re clearly a decent team, as they’ve shown by beating Premier League teams already. It won’t be easy at all. Whoever plays, we have to all concentrate and work hard and do our best."
The full joint-interview appears in United Review, Wednesday's official matchday programme, and includes the boys' views on each other and Ole.
Reading this in our app? If not, you might miss some exclusive features not found on ManUtd.com. Download the Official App here.