Ole Gunnar Solskjaer explains why Mason Greenwood has not started more games for Manchester United
The youngster has scored three goals in four starts and reminds his boss of Robin van Persie but he still has plenty to learn
Friday, 8th November 2019, 4:16 pm
The Manchester United manager acknowledges that blooding young footballers is in this club’s DNA. The club has lost touch with the Premier League leaders largely because of a lack of goals. Greenwood has scored three in his first four starts for United. Yet, Solskjaer is reluctant to throw the 18-year-old into Manchester United’s league fixtures.
Since the opening weekend victory over Chelsea, United have averaged a goal a game at Old Trafford and. while agreeing that Greenwood’s finishing reminded him of a young Robin van Persie, his manager was doubtful that playing him against Brighton – a club who have never won at Old Trafford – was in his best interests.
“Mason is going to have a very good career but sometimes it is not the right time to play him and he knows why he hasn’t played,” Solskjaer said.
“We have to find the right balance between playing him and resting him because he has gone up from the under-18s and he needs to learn how to play a man’s game. You can’t turn that switch on and off, if you are going to be accepted by the first team.
“As a manager, you are always going to be assessed on results but the DNA of this club has always been to give young players a chance and, if it takes two or three years for him to come through, then it is worth it. I am managing for Manchester United not for me.”
While arguing that Thursday’s 3-0 win over Partizan Belgrade which saw them into the knockout stages of the Europa League was "a template for how we want to play", Solskjaer was honest enough not to make the easy comment that a corner had been turned.
Partizan are fourth in the Serbian SuperLiga and it is a rule of thumb that any league that calls itself ‘Super’ is not. Solskjaer thought it did not provide a realistic guide to how Manchester United might play against Brighton or anyone else in the Premier League.
“The opposition allowed us to play this way,” he said. “No disrespect to Partizan, but they gave us space. This win will give us pointers to how we should play when we are performing well, although the opposition is not the same as you would find in the Premier League.”
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Manchester United’s incisiveness in going for Partizan’s exposed throat did mean they can send a virtual reserve side on the 3,700-mile journey to Kazakhstan to face Astana in what are likely to be sub-zero temperatures. Then they return to play three games in a week, including the Manchester derby.
Solskjaer smiled when reminded that Manchester United have now won more cup than league games this season, acknowledging that cups are now what count at Old Trafford.
“I don’t want to stop winning in cups because the Premier League trophy is out of our reach,” he said. “We are too far behind the top teams but any trophy we can get our hands on we are going to go for.”