Much was made yesterday about Mason Greenwood’s ‘return to form’ as he notched a goal and an assist in Manchester United’s 3-2 victory over Liverpool in the FA Cup.
Many have pointed out that the 19-year-old had gone ten games without a goal and journalists such as The Telegraph’s James Ducker have suggested that he has been suffering from second-season syndrome.
‘Mason Greenwood is not the first talented youngster to find his second full season in the Premier League tough going, and he will not be the last,’ Ducker says.
‘Like all newcomers, he enjoyed the element of surprise last term. Opposition defenders, while undoubtedly aware of the noise emanating from Old Trafford about this gifted teenager, were perhaps not quite as informed about his knack of taking shots early, and clinically, with either feet as they now are, for example.’
The 19-year-old’s goal came from his right foot and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told MUTV after the match ‘I think there is more to Mason than what people think, that he’s only got a left-foot.’
This was a curious thing to say. Everyone knows that Greenwood is two footed, don’t they?
Facts are facts and it is certainly true that Greenwood had gone ten games without a goal. But whether that was down to poor form, second season syndrome or something else is debatable.
Wednesday’s game against Fulham and yesterday’s match was only the second occasion this season that the England star has been selected in the starting line-up in consecutive games, the first being a run of four starts in December against West Ham, RB Leipzig, Man City and Sheffield United.
In fact, Greenwood only started seven of the ten games in his so-called barren spell and there were three matches during that run in which he did not get any minutes. He played just one minute of the 0-0 draw with Liverpool at Anfield, 10 of the 1-0 victory at Burnley and 15 of the EFL Cup semi-final against Man City. What’s more, Greenwood was subbed off in all but one of his seven starts during that period.
Greenwood therefore played an average of just 42 minutes per game over the course of the 13 games since his last goal.
How is a player supposed to get any rhythm going when he is in and out of the team like a fiddler’s elbow?
It is hard to say – or question – why Solskjaer has been holding his young star back this season. His season ‘got off to the worst possible start when he was sent home in disgrace from Iceland by England manager Gareth Southgate in September,’ Ducker writes before adding ‘there were more concerning stories about his application at United to follow.’
Tough love, perhaps, although Solskjaer vehemently and consistently denied the rumours of attitude problems.
Whatever the reason, it is surely time now for us to see what Greenwood can do with more regular starts. He is a more natural finisher than both Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial and faster and more mobile than Edinson Cavani. An incredible talent who could surpass all of them, it is time for Solskjaer to make him one of the first names on the teamsheet instead of one of the last.
Mason Greenwood’s first half vs. Liverpool by numbers:
100% total duels won
100% dribble success
92% pass accuracy
3 shots [2 on target]
1 chance created
1 foul won
So good to see him get that goal. 👌 pic.twitter.com/E5CkVwk0v4
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) January 24, 2021
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