Ole Gunnar Solskjaer watched Mason Greenwood round off the scoring in Manchester United’s 3-0 win at Luton last night.
Then he delivered his verdict on what Greenwood would must improve in order to become a United number nine.
As per United’s official website, Solskjaer said: ““For him to be a number nine though, he needs to learn how to head the ball
I keep telling him that and, if he wants to do that, he’s welcome to come and practice with me.
As Solskjaer says, this isn’t the first time he’s spoken about the need for Greenwood to improve his ability in the air.
Goal quoted the manager in December saying the same thing, that Greenwood needs to ‘develop his heading’, so he can be a ‘proper striker’.
That is something that Wayne Rooney also struggled with in his early years at Old Trafford.
Back in 2009, Rooney told the Guardian he ‘should probably score more goals with my head’.
That was Rooney at 23 as well, a full five years older than Greenwood is now.
That underlines this is a weakness Greenwood has plenty of time to sort out and Rooney also provides a blueprint on how to do so emphatically.
Rooney was a versatile, dynamic, creative forward in the early part of his career, capable of performing a variety of different roles for the team.
But during that 2009/10 season in which he gave the aforementioned interview, Rooney’s heading ability changed unrecognisably.
From January 2010, he netted nine headers in 12 matches as United’s lone striker. He had been transformed into a lethal, single-minded hitman, deadly in the air as well as on the ground.
There were some important headers in there too; to win the EFL Cup final against Aston Villa and a double in the San Siro.
Rooney told United’s website that 2009/10 campaign brought about the ‘best goalscoring period of my career’, which offers an indication of the even greater goal hauls on offer if Greenwood improves his aerial ability.
Solskjaer’s comments are timely given Greenwood’s missed header against Crystal Palace, which was arguably United’s best chance of the second half.
Greenwood is exceptional at what he does, for his age. But Solskjaer knows he needs to add more strings to his bow.
That’s exactly what Rooney did in 2010, and offers the ideal blueprint for Greenwood to follow ten years on.
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