Man Utd: Solskjaer hails Greenwood after beating Brighton
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Former Manchester United and England midfielder Paul Scholes has backed Mason Greenwood to develop into a top-class goalscorer, suggesting that he could take on some of the attacking burden weighing down the shoulders of Bruno Fernandes in the near future. Greenwood was selected by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to start up front ahead of Edinson Cavani for Thursday’s Europa League quarter-final clash against Granada in a significant example of the Norwegian manager’s trust in the teenager’s ability.
The 19-year-old is widely regarded as one of United’s finest academy graduates and has been tipped to enjoy a long and successful career at the highest level of the game.
He has featured heavily for Solskjaer’s side this season, making 40 appearances in all competitions and chipping in with six goals and five assists.
Greenwood has been deployed out wide on a number of recent occasions, but has scarcely been handed a spot in his preferred role at the tip of United’s attacking trident.
The Red Devils have become heavily dependent on Fernandes to lead the charge since the Portugal star’s arrival from Sporting Lisbon in January of last year.
The 26-year-old is without exception the first name on Solskjaer’s team sheet when fit, with his consistently influential performances often overshadowing the contributions of his team-mates.
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Scholes, who made 718 total appearances for the club during an 18-year spell at Old Trafford, has admitted that his former employers are far too reliant on their midfield talisman.
However, the 46-year-old claimed that there are players already within United’s ranks that should be looking to step up and ease the pressure on Fernandes.
“I look at Manchester United and I don’t think they are a great football team,” Scholes told BT Sport. “But they’ve got individuals that win you games of football.
“When you look at the top end of the pitch – you look at [Marcus] Rashford, look at [Anthony] Martial, I know Martial is injured of course.”
Scholes went on to identify Greenwood as a future star with the potential to become a vital member of the side.
He compared United’s current situation with that of yesteryear, pointing out that Sir Alex Ferguson’s teams often lacked standout players and won trophies as well-oiled units.
“I think we had everything,” said Scholes. “We were a great team, probably didn’t have many stand-out individuals.
“We had Cristiano Ronaldo of course and Ryan Giggs, but we played as a team as well. I don’t think this [current] team is quite knitted as a team.
“I still think they rely heavily on Fernandes, which you should do when you pay £67million for him, you expect him to score goals.
“They’ve got Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood – I don’t think he’s scored enough goals, I don’t think he’s played consistently enough to get them goals, but I think he will do.”
Greenwood signed a new deal with United back in February that will keep him at Old Trafford until the end of the 2024/25 campaign.
The teenager previously revealed that he tries to model his game on Brazilian icon Ronaldo, hinting at his aim to lead the Red Devils from the front in a similar fashion in years to come.
“A player I used to watch was R9, the Brazilian Ronaldo,” Greenwood told Rio Ferdinand for BT Sport earlier this year.
“I used to always watch videos and clips of him in the car always coming up to training, literally every single day. I used to do [his step-overs] on the goalkeeper and on the players.
“I used to pick up from it and literally used to do what he used to do, the feint shots and the step overs and now it’s just stuck to me.”
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