Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says under-fire Mason Greenwood is ‘fantastic to work with’
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists he has no concerns about Mason Greenwood’s professionalism, saying the precocious Manchester United teenager is a “fantastic boy to work with”.
The 18-year-old academy graduate has enjoyed a rapid ascent and was shortlisted for the PFA Young Player of the Year award following a stunning breakthrough season.
Greenwood scored 17 goals in all competitions last term and went onto make his senior England debut in September, only to be sent home by Gareth Southgate after breaching their strict bio bubble in Iceland.
There has been more talk about the teenager’s behaviour in the last week and Solskjaer denied on Monday that the forward was subject to any disciplinary action, having missed the trips to Newcastle and Paris St Germain.
Reports have since emerged suggesting that Greenwood has been warned about his behaviour, but the United boss dismissed that and any talk of his time-keeping being an issue,
“You do (make a target for yourself) when you play well and I’m not concerned at all with Mason making a target of himself,” Solskjaer said.
“He’s come in, he’s played fantastic, he played his first league game against Tottenham last season, was brilliant and just kicked on.
“Yeah, he’s made a mistake this summer with England and suddenly the whole English press go after him and that’s something we’ve got to look after.
“He’s a fantastic boy to work with. I have to disappoint you, he’s never, ever late for training, he’s never a problem when he’s in the training ground. He’s always on time.
“I’ve seen the stories, actually some ex-United players talking about him and they don’t really know anything what they’re talking about because, well, we’ve got photographers outside the training ground every day so they can check the time every day.
“I don’t know where these stories have come and I’ve just got to say he’s got a good family behind him, he’s had a good background in the academy.
“He’s a good trainer, he trains really well, and I cannot believe all these stories about him not being professional.
“So, anyway, that’s something we have to deal with with many players. Many other players at United have had that.”
Greenwood is set to return to action against Chelsea on Saturday, when captain Harry Maguire and new signing Edinson Cavani are also pushing to be involved.
“I hope and expect all three of them to be available for selection,” Solskjaer said.
“Of course we’ve got a training session this morning but, yeah, they’ve all got a chance, all of them.
“There’s two different reasons, so Edinson wants to tick all the boxes that he’s gone through in his programme and feel ready to make an impact.
“I think his last preparation was going to be today and then I’ll have a discussion with him, and it seemed positive yesterday with both Mason and Harry so hopefully.”
Jesse Lingard and Eric Bailly will be absent against Chelsea and for the next few weeks through injury, while new boy Facundo Pellistri will join Brandon Williams and Marcos Rojo in featuring for the Under-23s against Everton on Friday.
Anthony Martial remains suspended when Frank Lampard’s side visit Old Trafford, where you would not bet against Marcus Rashford shining once again.
The 22-year-old struck late to see off PSG in the Champions League once again, before continuing his fine work off the pitch aimed at preventing vulnerable children going hungry.
Asked if there’s anything left to say about Rashford, who was recently awarded an MBE, and the work he does, Solskjaer said with a laugh: “Probably not!
“But he’s now at a stage, we all speak about Marcus as this experienced boy and he’s 23 soon. He’s just between being a talent and being experienced, and you can see more and more of that experience coming out.
“We hope and we trust that Marcus’ background here, background with his family will keep him just developing and kick him on in his career.
“Now is around about the time that you’ll see him hopefully dividing himself from being a good player to being a very, very good player.”