Ole striking the right balance with Greenwood
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer appreciates Mason Greenwood is still adapting to senior football and will continue to treat the 18-year-old carefully.
The striker opened the scoring in the 3-0 win over Partizan Belgrade to maintain his record of finding the net in each of his three first-team starts at Old Trafford.
It was another cool finish by the homegrown youngster, who has been named in the England Under-21 squad for their games against Albania and the Netherlands.
Greenwood recently signed a new contract but his development will not be rushed. He has played a couple of full games for the Under-23s and Under-21s recently, scoring in the Premier League 2 victory over Stoke City early on and bagging an injury-time winner in the Leasing.com Trophy triumph at Doncaster Rovers.
It is all part of an ongoing education for the teenager who is, of course, still eligible to play for the Under-18s and in the FA Youth Cup.
"Mason is going to have a very good career here," predicted Ole. "Sometimes it’s not the right time to play him, sometimes he knows why he hasn’t played as much. We’re taking our time with him.
"It’s been a difficult time with Anthony [Martial] away, but to put all that weight on his shoulders wasn’t right. I think we’re finding the right balance between playing, resting him and training him. He needs to learn the man’s game because he’s going up front.
"He was in the Under-18s last season and now he’s training with the first team every day. You can’t just turn that switch off and on, you’ve got to perform every day if you’re going to be accepted in a place like this."
The manager is not concerned that Mason's best form will probably not come for years yet and insists he will not over-expose him for any short-term gain.
"You always get assessed on results now," he said. "But it’s the DNA of this club and it’s always been my philosophy to give young players, with the right attitude, a chance.
"If that takes a couple of years for him to really come through, it’s worth it for us. I’m managing for Manchester United, I’m not managing for me. I’m managing the way I think we can get the best out of Mason."
Greenwood may be viewed as a centre-forward but remains a threat out on the right, ensuring he is another wide option in the 4-2-3-1 system. With Martial back to fitness, there is increased competition for places in attack but more opportunities will come for the teenager.
He came closest to scoring in last weekend's defeat at Bournemouth during his cameo appearance as a substitute, when hitting the woodwork, and hopefully his first Premier League strike is not far away.
"If he’d really stamped his authority in training every single day, he would have played every game," admitted the boss. "As a young boy, you expect some up and downs and he’s had some downs. I think he’s on his way up again.
"He is definitely one option on the right. I rested Dan [James] tonight because he’s played too much football for my liking. Maybe Mason hasn’t played enough but I think we’ll see a top player there one day."
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