Gary Neville has called Mason Greenwood “the real deal” after he secured a point for Manchester United against Everton on Sunday.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer decided to bring on Greenwood with Man Utd trailing the Toffees after Victor Lindelof’s first-half own goal. The youngster came off the bench to salvage a draw for the Red Devils with a clinical finish from the edge of the box.
It was the 18-year-old’s 7th goal of the season and it fittingly marked the 4000th consecutive game in which MUFC had an academy player in their matchday squad.
Neville talks as though we could be looking at a player who could be among the very best the club has produced.
“I like Greenwood a lot,” he told the Gary Neville Podcast (via Sky Sports). “The composure that he shows at such a young age, his great physical presence.
“The way in which he finishes is that of s top centre-forward. Sometimes when you see a young player in front of goal, they panic a bit and snatch at things — [Daniel] James and [Jesse] Lingard do that quite a lot.
“But I’d say Greenwood is a better finisher than Rashford — and that’s saying something. He really does look the real deal. I think Solskjaer knows that and he’s going to bleed him in.”
Neville, a member of United’s famous Class of ’92, believes Greenwood’s rise should be celebrated as the latest chapter of the club’s rich history of promoting the finest talent into the first team.
7 – Mason Greenwood has scored seven goals for @ManUtd in all competitions this season; among teenagers for clubs in the big-five European leagues, only Jadon Sancho (11) and Gabriel Martinelli (8) have more in 2019-20. Talent. #MUNEVE pic.twitter.com/bws1SQnM56
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 15, 2019
But if it isn’t celebrated like it should be — that will be down to poor results on the pitch.
“The academy is bedded deep in this football club – Greenwood is obviously another product – and it’s something Manchester United should be really proud of.
“United have always believed in young players. Even in difficult moments in the last six or seven years. Louis van Gaal, for instance, brought through Rashford and Lingard and believed in them, and then Jose Mourinho showed great faith in Scott McTominay at a time when I wasn’t sure he was a midfielder.
“Solskjaer is no different. He has taken it right back and really promoted the youth players. There have been times when I thought are these players being pushed in because of the history rather than them being good enough, but I think they’ve seen that they are good enough.”
On Sunday against Everton we had a chance to close the gap on top four to 2 points. Instead of trying to take control of the situation ourselves, we’ll continue to rely on results elsewhere.