Greenwood would have been extremely frustrated, like many others, when the football season was interrupted in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic. He was at an interesting and exciting time in his development, having scored eight goals in three months between December and March, on the brink of a regular spot on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad.
And yet the teenager could now move to a new level entirely at Old Trafford, spurred by additional competition for places in United’s attack and helped by additional quality in the midfield ranks behind him.
The break in action may have helped him catch up in terms of physique and continue where he left off.
Greenwood has already shown himself capable of creating goals from scratch. He has sometimes bailed out United this season. His distance left foot goals became his trademark, with the one who equalized home scores at Everton in December, a fine example of his technique. But Solskjaer also calls him the club’s most natural finisher – which is a reward in itself – with Greenwood a master of these “fox in the box” goals as well.
“Scoring goals is just natural for him and the one he scored against Leighton Baines [and Everton], I did it against Baines in 2006. I marked a few like that, and now Mason does it too, “said Solskjaer in December.
“If the defender closes his legs, he will fold him in the upper corner instead. At the last minute, he changed his mind from “I’m going to buckle him up”, to cut off his legs. “
If Greenwood previously flourished in an exhausted united camp, what could he produce in a team brimming with options?
He played precious little football with Paul Pogba, and United fans can therefore rightly be enthused by the potential of this partnership. Pogba and Bruno Fernandes will be the chief creators of United when the Premier League resumes, starting a week Friday at Tottenham.
There is no doubt that Solskjaer will strive to ensure that Greenwood gets past Pogba’s balls, having previously spoken of the partnership between Fernandes and Anthony Martial.
“Tony and Bruno succeeded together, so it’s a partnership that we hope can flourish,” said Solskjaer.
Getting United to click on the material in the future is about fine-tuning these midfield and attack relationships, picking the locks of the opposition’s defenses. It was a weakness for United at the start of the campaign. At times, Greenwood seemed to be the only one capable of producing something from thin air – which in itself speaks volumes for its capabilities.
But not everything will be easy for him. The extension of Odion Ighalo’s loan agreement with Shanghai Shenghua means there is another striker between Greenwood and a regular place in the first team, not to mention the return of Marcus Rashford after an injury.
The hope is that Greenwood will thrive in the middle of the competition, use its extra strength and, hopefully, a meter of rhythm and complete it all with this natural ability that has never been in doubt since United discovered the attacking in primary school.
United fans love to sing that “Mason Greenwood is dynamite”, yet they only saw a small fraction of his abilities. The new summer season of Premier League football may signal the birth of a new United superstar. It would be a step jump for the youngster, who only made his first United start a year ago against Cardiff and looked good, if a little crude.
It is now ready to start.