Mason Greenwood was given a start up front for Manchester United at the weekend. It was a learning experience for him.
The 19-year-old was substituted after 68 minutes without finding the back of the net. He had three shots at goal with just one landing on target.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told the club website after the game he was pleased with Greenwood’s contribution.
Solskjaer said: “Mason is naturally a floaty forward anyway. Sometimes when you are young, to stay up front is a challenge and he wanted to get a touch on the ball. He benefited from this game.”
Greenwood has just three goals this season, but this is not a time to worry. A dip in form is only natural for a player who struck 17 goals last season.
One of the problems Greenwood has faced is inconsistency. And that should be expected from a 19-year-old, who played in 49 first team games last season.
Greenwood did not get a proper summer break or a pre-season, and then there was the England debacle which led to press criticism of his behaviour back in September. So it has not been an ideal scenario for Greenwood to kick on, combined with pressure he may be feeling from within to match or better last season’s tally.
Have patience, class is permanent
While a lack of goals may be a little concerning, Greenwood deserves support and not criticism.
He is in an ideal place to learn, with a world class striker like Edinson Cavani to train alongside every day.
And second season syndrome is common among breakout young players. Greenwood should take inspiration from Atletico Madrid superkid Joao Felix.
Joao Felix wowed European football by scoring 20 goals for Benfica in 2018/19 and earning a £107 million move to Atletico.
But the Portuguese youngster found it tough in his first season in Spain, scoring only nine times.
This season he is more like himself, scoring 11 times already with just half the year gone. Joao Felix’s quality is shining through and he is on pace to reach or surpass the 20 goal mark again.
There are some parallels Greenwood can take here. While he did not switch clubs, he has had the drawback of heading into this campaign of a lack of rest.
Whatever happens with Greenwood between now and the end of the season, Joao Felix’s example should provide inspiration he can come bak stronger in his third full season.
This campaign has still been one of progress too, with Greenwood scoring his first ever Champions League goal. 2021 can still become a big year, and the teenager will have a big role to play between now and the end of the season.
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