Mason Greenwood.

Why there are more strings to Mason's bow

Tuesday 16 February 2021 15:58

Anybody who watched Mason Greenwood at Academy level will know there is potentially far more to come from him in top-flight football.

Yes, he has always scored goals, lots of them, but his game was about far more than that. He was not merely a poacher, somebody who was in the right place at the right time to finish off the flowing moves that are the hallmark of United's under-age teams.

Mason was a dynamic presence, floating between midfield and attack, dribbling past defenders, combining with his colleagues and terrorising the opposition. 

Five Greenwood Academy goals collection

Check out some footage from the MUTV archive of a handful of Mason's strikes in the Academy...

The youngster was lethal with both feet but there was more to him than being a sharpshooter as he sometimes looked more like a natural no.10. Hence, last season's startling form in front of goal, while not totally unexpected, perhaps did not paint the true broader picture of the exciting teenager's ability.

This term, things have been a little different and his role has changed. As Ole Gunnar Solskjaer noted when the forward's new contract was announced, the development has included an adaptability to his position. Usually stationed out on the right, he is showing a willingness to do the dirty work in helping Aaron Wan-Bissaka out, while maintaining the cut and thrust that mark him out as one of Europe's most exciting young talents.

The Yorkshireman is a fine crosser of the ball, something he had shown in the Under-18s, and an intelligent passer. He is capable of keeping control in the tightest of situations and has more than enough tricks to find his way past any full-back. 

There is no doubting his vision either and this has already come in useful during some breakaway raids - assisting Bruno Fernandes's brilliant goal at Brighton & Hove Albion last season was evidence of this.

To put it simply - Mason is a good footballer. These were pretty much the words then-Under-18s coach Kieran McKenna uttered to me in Austria when I first saw Greenwood live. As Kieran spoke, the 15-year-old danced his way past a defender during a two-on-one shooting drill and buried an unerring finish as if to rubber-stamp that matter-of-fact description.

A lot has happened in a short space of time since that summer of 2017 but nothing has changed that first impression of Mason. He is extraordinarily talented and I remember witnessing some astounding performances against Juventus and Chelsea at youth level that showed even the best Academy sides had no answer to him.

As he referenced in his interview with Stewart Gardner this week, the clinical finishing did not come naturally. Colin Little and the other Academy coaches worked hard to instil that killer instinct into somebody who was happy running at defenders and beating them with speed and skill. It is clear he was a fast learner in this regard and that has boded well for other facets of his game, which he readily admits include heading and tackling, with similar improvement to be anticipated if he maintains the hard work and soaks up the education at the Aon Training Complex.

Watch Mason’s exclusive interview Video

Watch Mason’s exclusive interview

Greenwood reveals his favourite moments so far and looks ahead to the next chapter in his United journey…

Mason is one of those players who produces a surge of excitement every time he receives possession. He could not be in better hands and, as he is often quick to stress, he is living the dream by performing for his boyhood club.

This latest contract is great news for all concerned, not least the United supporters who can look forward with eager anticipation to what he can become at Old Trafford. For instance, wait until he gets a proper chance to show off his free-kick ability or the knack of gliding off the flank to deliver a decisive through ball. The sky continues to be the limit for Mason Greenwood

He is already a much more rounded footballer than he was at 18. Let's see what's next for him but I would not be surprised if we start seeing a lot more assists from the England international.

The opinions in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Manchester United Football Club.

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