Mason Greenwood is attracting high praise after his brace for Manchester United at the weekend.
The two goals against Bournemouth took his tally to 15 for the season, and highlighted what a special player the 18-year-old is shaping up to be.
To Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this is no surprise at all.
He backed Greenwood to bring his under-23 form to the first team and really kick on.
Last season Solskjaer took Greenwood on the club’s pre-season tour, and saw him score goals against Leeds and Inter Milan.
Speaking to the club website shortly after arriving in Australia, the United boss spoke highly of Greenwood, then 17.
He said: “You saw Mason in the last training session. Bang, bang, bang. Three goals.
“Mason will definitely play more games. He has grown over the summer and I think his confidence has grown too after the Cardiff game, as he was our best player.”
After the tour, Greenwood had done enough to convince Solskjaer he was ready to contribute.
He even influenced his transfer plans, with Solskjaer careful not to add a player who could make the teenager’s path to success more complicated.
Solskjaer told the club website at the time in late July 2019: “It’s one of the big decisions you have to make when you’ve got such a talented player coming through.
“Are we going to get players in who are going to block his path or trust him and give him an opportunity.
“He is one we believe is going to be a big part of this squad going forwards and we’ll see a lot of him.”
Greenwood’s performances had many calling for him to start against Chelsea on the first day of the season.
Solskjaer was more cautious, and chose to introduce the young forward more slowly.
Now he is being given a prominent role, having started United’s last three games, and Greenwood looks more ready than ever before.
Marcus Rashford also believed in Greenwood’s potential. A year ago he also backed his young teammate to make a first team impact.
Rashford also told the club website: “He’ll definitely get more game time. Everyone’s just enjoying watching him develop and grow, you know, because that step up from academy football to men’s football can be difficult.
“Hopefully he just keeps on going and keeps working hard, and then I don’t see why he can’t play.”
Right now Greenwood has proven everybody right. That is not easy to do for a young player. Most who are billed as future stars end up failing to live up to their potential.
Greenwood is the exception, and now he is chasing down Wayne Rooney’s tally of 17 goals in his first season as a United player.
It is right to be cautious about putting too much pressure on a young player, and United have tried to protect Greenwood as much as possible by shielding him from doing media interviews.
For now, the cat is out of the bag. Greenwood has shown he is ready to step up now. Just as Solskjaer hoped.
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