Greenwood petrified Villa but he lacked composure at crucial moments
Manchester United’s unbeaten start to the Premier League campaign ended with a 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford against Aston Villa, but similar to the midweek Carabao Cup exit, it couldn’t be put down to a lack of attempts on goal.
The team attempted 27 shots at goal in the West Ham game and then 28 against Villa. Despite these combined 55 goal attempts in two games, United have no goals to show for it.
Against Dean Smith’s side, we only registered four attempts on target with a forward line containing Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood and Cristiano Ronaldo.
That was a surprise, especially considering we had scored nine goals in our other two league games at the Theatre of Dreams so far this season.
Greenwood, who attempted the most shots on goal in the match (8), registered two shots on target (WhoScored).
Greenwood needed to lift his head up against Villa
United’s 19-year-old sensation was carving Villa apart and created a lot panic with his blistering pace and movement.
But at times, which is something of a surprise given how composed he is usually in front of goal, he made the wrong decision.
In the first half, after a great run, Pogba played a perfectly-weighted pass into Greenwood’s stride, but after turning Tyrone Mings inside out, Greenwood opted to shoot instead of laying it off to an on-rushing Bruno Fernandes, who was in a better position. Greenwood’s right-footed strike was smothered by Emiliano Martinez.
Fresh after Ollie Watkins stung the palms of David de Gea, Fernandes’ delicious first time pass set Greenwood and United off on a trademark devastating counter attack.
With Mings, Kortney Hause and Ezri Konsa all paying close attention to Greenwood, Ronaldo made a clever run, which if the 19-year-old had spotted, he could have provided the 36-year-old with his best goalscoring opportunity of the game.
But Greenwood didn’t opt to play Ronaldo in with a reverse pass, he was instead crowded out on the edge of the box and dragged a snapshot wide.
With the game entering the final twenty minutes, Aaron Wan-Bissaka galloped through the middle of the pitch which forced Matt Targett and Douglas Luiz to commit, but the United right-back’s pace took him away from the Villa duo.
Wan-Bissaka’s run forced Mings to come out of defence, but the former Crystal Palace man was able to nudge the ball to Greenwood.
But again with Fernandes and Ronaldo available square in the box, Greenwood went for goal, but his attempt was blocked by Hause.
Greenwood was keen to drive his team on and be the matchwinner, no player on the pitch completed more dribbles (5) than the England international.
Apart from Fernandes (10), no player on the pitch created as many chances as Greenwood (3), so he was as the heart of everything good that came from United.
It says a lot about Greenwood’s self-belief, confidence and character that in a forward-line containing a wealth of star names that United has, Greenwood wants to be the man to rescue his team and be selfish where he feels its required.
But on another day, if the academy graduate’s decision making and awareness was better, he would have been heralded for proving to be the difference between the two sides through his passing qualities.
Greenwood hasn’t scored since Ronaldo’s second debut against Newcastle and that may have been weighing heavily on his mind when he was in the dangerous positions he was yesterday.
But as a partnership, the pair alongside Pogba and Fernandes and others can be absolutely devastating for one and other.
It doesn’t matter who scores goals, it’s just about winning and United need to get back to doing just that on Wednesday night against Villarreal.