IAN LADYMAN: Mason Greenwood is a No. 9 pending and has to go to center at Manchester United … Ole Gunnar Solskjaer didn’t get the best of him against Villarreal and paid the price
- Mason Greenwood may need to make the transition to the central position soon
- The teen is such a talented finisher that he deserves a better shot at goal
- Too often he was isolated against Villarreal wide for Manchester United
- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will have to decide where he wants Greenwood to play
With 20 minutes left from normal time, Marcus Rashford missed an opportunity that could have settled this game earlier. Had it fallen on Mason Greenwood it very well could have been taken and United would have been spared this embarrassment.
If the most natural goalscorer at Manchester United is the magnificent Edinson Cavani, his most natural successor is likely to be the boy 15 years younger than him.
At United’s training ground in Carrington, they’ve been talking about Greenwood for years. The only decision United and their manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will ever have to make over the 19-year-old is where exactly they will play him. They certainly weren’t getting the most out of him in Gdansk.
The only decision Manchester United has to make over Mason Greenwood is his position
Edinson Cavani takes center stage, but the teenage star deserves central opportunity
Greenwood is fast and bipedal and can play wide on both sides of the field. Here he was stationed on the right and got more and more impressive until he was taken away quite astonishingly ten minutes in extra time.
But Greenwood is such a natural and instinctive finisher that it seems inevitable that he will eventually be moved to a more central position. It kind of feels like that transition has to come soon.
This was United’s biggest game of the season, indeed Solskjaer’s reign at Old Trafford.
In the end things went completely wrong and in retrospect it was a shame that Greenwood, one of the club’s most natural goalscorers, was rarely able to look at the goal.
Greenwood was sometimes widely insulated, where its natural finish can sometimes be wasted
With Cavani on the side, it is understandable that the Uruguayan takes center stage. He is without equal at the club.
However, Greenwood is a great, powerful striker, a player who can shoot from both feet. Too often in this match he seemed quite isolated in the United formation and given the number of attacking players on this team – including Rashford – there must be a reason why they only managed three shots on target in the two hours of play leading up to the penalty . shooting.
United were slow and predictable in the first half of normal time. As such, it wasn’t until the last minute of the opening period that Greenwood produced its first notable moment.
The 19-year-old was dangerous in wide positions, but did not receive the ball often enough
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer didn’t get the best out of Greenwood and has to make a decision
There was nothing mysterious about the way he drove past Villarreal midfielder Alfonso past United’s right side. He just pushed the ball past him and beat it on pace on the outside before crossing low to the front post.
Greenwood is bipedal and can bother defenders if isolated against them simply because they don’t know which way they’re going to go. The problem here was that he simply didn’t see enough of the ball.
At least Greenwood tried to stick to his role. On the left, Rashford pushed in for possession too often and all that did was narrow the scope of United’s offensive play. He scored a very controlled penalty, but had a bad night before that.
Marcus Rashford had a frustrating evening and too often limited United’s attack options
Greenwood showed a little more game intelligence and sometimes it is difficult not to compare the two players.
Rashford has been United’s great attack heap for a while now. He remains a fine player and will be part of Gareth Southgate’s revised England team of 26 to be announced ahead of the European championships next week.
As for Greenwood, he can’t make the cut. But as Solskjaer tries to get this United side further down the road, it wouldn’t surprise many if the younger player was the one to come forward.
Much will depend on him. Off the field, he may need to tighten up a bit. He may have to play as number nine on that soon.