Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Mason Greenwood is ‘a fantastic boy to work with’

By Simon Peach, PA Chief Football Writer
·5-min read

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists he has no concerns about Mason Greenwood’s professionalism as the talented Manchester United teenager prepares to return from illness against Chelsea.

The 19-year-old academy graduate has enjoyed a remarkable ascent since making his debut in March 2019 and was shortlisted for the PFA Young Player of the Year award after a stunning breakthrough season.

Greenwood scored 17 goals in all competitions last term and went on to make his senior England debut in September, only to be sent home by Gareth Southgate after breaching their strict bio-secure 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.

Mason Greenwood and Phil Foden were sent home by England just days after making their debuts
Mason Greenwood and Phil Foden were sent home by England just days after making their debuts (Mike Egerton/PA)

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 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 from 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.

Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur – Premier League – Old Trafford
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (pictured) says striker Mason Greenwood is “fantastic to work with” (Alex Livesey/PA)

“So, anyway, that’s something we have to deal with with many players. Many other players at United have had that.”

Solskjaer said Greenwood had a “niggle” when explaining his absence for Tuesday’s Champions League group opener at PSG, but now says the forward has been recovering from illness at a time when he is under the microscope.

“I think Mason learned a harsh lesson this summer, of course,” the Norwegian said.

“It’s just a reality of when you do well at Man United you’ll be under the spotlight, whether it’s good or bad.

“The more bad decisions, the more likely you are to be followed.

“When you play well, you just keep yourself out of the limelight in that respect.

“He’s never been an issue here training. He trains really well, I really enjoy seeing him develop and hopefully he’s shaken off his illness and he’ll be ready for this weekend.”

Greenwood’s return to action would be a boost for Solskjaer, who expects the teenager to be available to face Chelsea, along with captain Harry Maguire and new signing Edinson Cavani.

Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard and Eric Bailly are among the unavailable players on Saturday, when United continue what has been a strange season for them and everyone else.

Tuesday’s impressive 2-1 triumph in France means they have won all five of their away matches to date, yet they have lost both of their games at an empty Old Trafford.

As if the shock 3-1 loss to Crystal Palace was not bad enough, Solskjaer’s men went on to be smashed 6-1 by Tottenham and desperately need a change in fortunes when Chelsea visit this weekend.

“The league this season has started strangely,” said Solskjaer, whose side welcome RB Leipzig in the Champions League on Wednesday and host Arsenal next weekend.

Manchester United lost 6-1 to Tottenham in their last match at Old Trafford
Manchester United lost 6-1 to Tottenham in their last match at Old Trafford (Oli Scarff/PA)

“It is a very, very strange atmosphere within the stadiums. It’s not the same. It’s not like it used to be. Without the fans, it’s more sterile.

“After the win against PSG, you feel it’s almost like you’ve been to the training ground and done well in training. The edge is missing.

“For me now, we need consistency. We’ve been too much up and down. We need to address the home form.

“The next week is a great test for us because we all remember what happened after the last time we beat PSG. The response wasn’t the greatest was it?

“This week is a chance for our players – and also staff – to show that we’ve moved on from that time.”