Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has vowed to protect Manchester United youngster Mason Greenwood.
The 18-year-old’s breakthrough season led to greater exposure and a first senior call-up to the England squad.
Representing your country for the first time will be a landmark moment for any footballer who has achieved such a feat, but it ended in controversy for Greenwood after being sent home — alongside Man City’s Phil Foden — for breaching coronavirus protocols in England’s team hotel.
As is often the case, tabloids sniffed blood and wanted to rub Greenwood’s nose in more dirt by exposing the youngster while down.
The Sun ran photos and videos of Greenwood allegedly inhaling laughing gas. Although a statement was released on Greenwood’s behalf (exclusively to The Telegraph) to apologise, for the second time in the space of a week, Gary Neville argued that the youngster was being victimised by the media.
Greenwood will soon learn about the pressures of being a Manchester United star but Solskjaer made the right move to issue a plea that he will protect him.
In typical Sir Alex Ferguson fashion, as noted by BBC Sport reporter Simon Stone, Solskjaer defended his player and slagged off The FA.
Straight out of the SAF/@ManUtd playbook from OGS there. Defend players and slag the FA off. That is exactly what SAF would have done.
— Simon Stone (@sistoney67) September 18, 2020
“Yeah, of course I’ve spoken to Mason,” Solskjaer told a pre-match press conference (via Manchester Evening News).
“What we speak about and discuss will be between the two of us. The kid had a fantastic season, he’s just come through, I’ve worked and the club has worked and all the staff here have worked really hard to – when we gave Mason enough time on the pitch, when we gave him exposure in the media, then you come to the end of the season and we’ve had less than two weeks off and he’s called up to the national team.
“I have to be honest enough to say I tried my best to give him a rest over the summer, at the club we asked specifically and pointed out he should have had a rest.
”He needs it mentally and physically after that season he had and the first thing that happens is one, he’s called up and two, he’s right there in the press.
“We’ve done whatever we can to protect him and I will keep on helping him. I know when he comes back into the daily routine of the club and what we do to him he’ll be fine.”