Could Mason Greenwood cut his teeth playing in the right-wing position, using his pace and skills to succeed?

Could Mason Greenwood cut his teeth playing in the right-wing position, using his pace and skills to succeed?

Mason Greenwood made four appearances for Manchester United’s first team last season, making his debut in the 3-1 victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League. Greenwood then played against Arsenal in 2-0 defeat in the Premier League, followed by a 2-1 victory against West Ham United, playing 90 minutes in the final match of the season; a 2-0 defeat to Cardiff City.

During pre-season this summer, Greenwood was given opportunities by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as he looked to sort out his playing squad for the new season. During pre-season, the 17-year-old played 200 minutes out of the 540 minutes available, playing 45 minutes against Perth Glory, Leeds United and Tottenham Hotspur, 30 minutes against Kristiansund, 27 minutes against Inter Milan and eight minutes against AC Milan.

Greenwood scored two goals; one against Leeds United, the other against Inter Milan – the deciding goal in that game. The 17-year-old largely played in the right-wing position in a 4-2-3-1 formation which led me to wonder if the player could offer some security in that role this season with United aiming to keep the pace they had in pre-season in the season proper, which will continue Solskjaer’s high pressing system.

During his development in the United academy, where last season he performed for the U18s, U19s and the U23s, Greenwood has largely played as the centre-forward, which is a position he might not get much of a look in this season with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial the best options in this position but also including Alexis Sanchez, who when fit could play as the main striker in the team, as a rotation option.

Greenwood has not played as a right-winger during his development but featured in this position against PSG, Arsenal and West Ham in the first team last season. The position has been problematic at the club for many years with Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Rashford, and Martial playing in the position, none of them making it their own. Diogo Dalot has played here too, possible being a candidate along with Greenwood, in my opinion.

Greenwood has the killer instinct to play in an advanced position for United. He does not fear his opposition what had been visible during his time in the academy but when he came on against PSG, he showed no fear at all, which was great to see. It is clear that Greenwood is happy on the football pitch and added to his hunger and desire, his ability is something which will help carry him during his career.

Greenwood has been prolific in front of goal whilst playing in the academy. At U18 level during the 2018/19 season, he played 34 times, scoring 34 goals, assisting a further nine goals. At U19 level, playing in the UEFA Youth League, he played five times, scoring five goals, assisting one more. At U23 level, Greenwood played six times, scoring three goals and assisting two more.

In total last season, Greenwood played 45 times at youth level, scoring 42 goals and assisting a further 12 goals. Basically, he had a part to play in 54 goals, meaning that he had scored or assisted 1.2 goals per appearance. Based on minutes played; 2,281 at the three youth levels, Greenwood averaged a goal or assist every 42 minutes, which is great for a player of his age to have achieved. It really shows his pedigree.

Whilst he has not scored competitively for United yet, although it will come, possibly this season, he is doing the right things to be included by Solskjaer. It is clear that the Norwegian has high hopes for the player and has a set plan to ensure this United team follows the true path of the club; blooding in youth, finding the right fit into the team and allowing them to achieve. Here’s to seeing Youth, Courage, Success at United.

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