After last checking in on Anthony Martial’s dismal 2020/21 campaign, it is time to look back at Mason Greenwood’s season.
For a long while Greenwood was lagging behind even Martial in goals, despite putting in some strong displays. He ended the season with a flourish and reached double figures again, and can reflect on a strong campaign overall.
Here is a look back at the highs and lows of Greenwood’s second full season in Manchester United’s first team.
What was his situation heading into the season?
Greenwood ended the 2019/20 season scoring 17 goals and setting multiple records in the process. It could hardly have gone better.
But there were early red flags. He needed a summer of rest and did not get one, and England did not consider that, calling him into the international set up in September after he had just 10 days of rest.
Gareth Southgate then senselessly put him in front of a press conference where he was asked about Harry Maguire’s arrest in Greece. Greenwood then made an error of judgement with a Covid breach and was sent home from Iceland in disgrace. It was not the ideal start.
How did 2020/21 go?
Greenwood began the season looking like he needed a rest, and was not helped by United’s implausible decision to go another summer without signing a first team winger.
He scored just three goals in the first half of the season and added another against Liverpool in January.
At times it felt like Greenwood was banging his head against a brick wall, losing some of his composure at times, and suffering bad luck, seeing shots cleared off the line and hitting the woodwork, before his fortune finally turned for the better.
Greenwood was helped by Paul Pogba’s return in March, who provided assists for him three matches in a row, to re-ignite his scoring form.
A run of goals saw Greenwood finish the season on double figures for the second consecutive season, a tally which he can be proud of after the early challenges he faced.
Greenwood was always going to face some kind of second season syndrome after his outstanding breakthrough campaign, and by the end of it had come through it, looking stronger than ever.
Greenwood’s second strike of the season came in the Champions League as he scored against RB Leipzig, and it was from his first ever shot in the competition.
His FA Cup goal against Liverpool was also a big moment, and showed how clinical he can be.
Greenwood’s confidence flowed during his late season surge and it was a joy to behold.
The real highlight was his goal to round off the scoring in United’s 6-2 home win over Roma, meaning at the age of just 19, Greenwood has scored in a European semi-final.
A high point for United was tying Greenwood down to a long-term contract extension.
The lowpoint for Greenwood were the early season attacks from the press, which came for him after the England debacle.
Greenwood was backed publicly by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer amid these ludicrous overreactions, which came also at a point where the player was mourning the death of his young friend.
What were the standout numbers?
Greenwood finished the season with 12 goals, and now sits on 29 already for United, reaching double figures two seasons in succession.
Take away the Europa League group stages in 2019 and his output across the two seasons is broadly the same.
Greenwood was one of just two United players to score in five different competitions in 2020/21, along with Marcus Rashford.
Along his way he broke Wayne Rooney’s record for United’s record teenage Premier League goalscorer, and became one of just five players under 20 to play for the club 100 times.
Greenwood also managed to provide five assists, equal with Edinson Cavani.
Next step in 2021/22?
Greenwood is on track to be great, and he has shown mental character to bounce back from everything which was working against him in the first few months of the season.
What would be great this time around is if he can get off to a fast start, and a summer rest could help hugely with that after dropping out of England’s Euro 2020 squad.
Greenwood’s role next season will be moulded by United’s summer transfer business.
The possible arrival of Jadon Sancho will ease reliance on Greenwood on the right, ensuring he won’t be overplayed.
It would also likely see Greenwood move into a central role more often with Edinson Cavani 34, and a front three of Rashford, Greenwood and Sancho is an exciting one United can build around for years to come.
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