Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s substitutions are often a matter of debate for a lot of fans, but there is one particular player who seems to be involved in the exchange just about every match, whether coming on or going off – Mson Greenwood.
Greenwood has started 16 games for United this season and has been subbed in an incredible 14 of them.
What’s more, the two games in which Greenwood wasn’t subbed were arguably exceptional circumstances. The first was the away fixture against West Ham in December, when United were trailing to a Thomas Soucek goal at half-time. Solskjaer made two half-time subs, taking off Donny van de Beek and the injured Edinson Cavani, and then was forced to make another in the 62nd minute when Anthony Martial also picked up a knock.
The only other game in which Greenwood lasted until the full-time whistle was the 9-0 win against Southampton. On this occasion, Solskjaer had the luxury of resting his key players of Bruno Fernandes, Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford.
It could be the case that the manager is simply aware of Greenwood’s tender age and that he does not want him to burn out too soon. But often the substitution is made in the dying minutes of the game – for example against Brighton (83rd minute), Fulham (85th) and Everton (90th).
Tuesday’s FA Cup tie with West Ham was an interesting case in point. With the game heading for extra time and a goal needed, the boss pulled Greenwood off in the 86th minute, when most people would agree that he had been much more influential in the game than, say, Marcus Rashford, who by contrast is rarely subbed (9 times in 29 starts). And whilst it could be argued it turned out to be the right decision, with Rashford laying on the assist for Scott McTominay’s winner, it does leave you wondering what is in Solskjaer’s head when it comes to Greenwood.
On the other hand, when Greenwood is on the bench, Solskjaer usually brings him on. In all competitions, Greenwood has been on the bench 13 times and has been brought on in all but four of those games.
Is he protecting him from burnout? Is he unduly harsh on him and sees him as the weak link more often than most fans do? Or is it perhaps as simple as knowing, from training, that Greenwood lacks stamina toward the end of 90 minutes?
Whatever the case, there is definitely a pattern that looks set to continue as the young star aims to become one of the world’s best forwards.
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