If you ask Manchester United fans right now, they’ll tell you they need several positions to be improved upon.
They’re desperate for a centre back, they’ve been looking for a right winger for the best part of three years, and, probably more so than either of those, they’re craving a defensive midfielder.
Despite being the highest scoring team in the Premier League right now though, some would argue they’re in need of a top striker in the side too. Anthony Martial has followed up scoring 23 goals last season, the best goalscoring campaign of his career, to netting just seven so far this year, while Edinson Cavani‘s form has been better but he is 34 years old now.
The talk has been about Erling Haaland, who has lit up the European football scene since the beginning of last season with both Salzburg and Borussia Dortmund. But it seems that much of the fanbase have forgotten that they have one of the best young attackers in the world already among their ranks.
Mason Greenwood’s star is probably not quite as bright as it once was, with a run of form in the last six months that he’d probably rather hadn’t happened. But the ability is still obviously there.
Having scored 17 goals in all competitions for the club in his debut full season for Manchester United, Greenwood took much of the limelight during the summer with many worried that a potential move for Jadon Sancho could see his path blocked.
When the move didn’t happen but Cavani joined, the same concerns were echoed. But Greenwood has been given ample opportunity this season to shine and has struggled from his right wing position. He’s been criticised and questioned, but let’s get some perspective.
Firstly, he has had plenty of personal problems this year. A close friend of his took his own life after failing to come through the academy system and he also had problems off the pitch after the now infamous incident in Iceland, where the media were quick to jump on him and criticise.
Secondly, and most importantly, he’s not a right winger. He came through the academy as a natural number nine and blossomed. In the men’s game he struggled with the physicality initially, and was moved to the right because of his ability with both feet and dynamism. But when he has played through the middle, he’s notably done well.
He scored the opening goal against RB Leipzig in the 5-0 win in the Champions League and after moving central against West Ham, his stunning finish made it 2-1 in an eventual 3-1 win.
He’s bulked up physically in the last 18 months and now looks stronger than ever. He’s still quick enough to beat defenders and get away from them and the two-footedness he has is matched by very few across the globe which makes him a defender’s nightmare.
As United prepare to battle Real Sociedad in the Europa League round of 32, it was revealed by Solskjaer that Cavani would miss out with a muscle injury while Martial was a doubt for the game. It means Greenwood should get the chance to play in his favoured role through the middle, and this could be the time for him to make the manager think about his decisions a bit more going forward.
A big performance up front is what Greenwood needs right now. His brand new contract has showed that his future lies at Old Trafford and that they believe in his quality, so now he must repay that on the pitch.
Greenwood’s quality is obvious. He has been described several times by the manager as the best finisher at the club, so now put him in a position where he can show that off. United’s strikers are lacking for goals right now, so give him the chance.
United could end up saving themselves the best part of £100m on a new striker by using the one they already have on the pitch.