It is not easy to steal the limelight at Manchester United these days, such has been the transformation in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s vibrant young team.
Marcus Rashford scored his 20th goal of the season against Bournemouth and so did Anthony Martial. Bruno Fernandes was on target and on song again. Paul Pogba could take a back seat and still watch United score five.
But at the end of another hugely encouraging attacking display, the name on everyone’s lips was Mason Greenwood.
Mason Greenwood’s double over Bournemouth should be getting Gareth Southgate excited
The 18-year-old took his Premier League total to eight in a thumping 5-2 win at Old Trafford
Two more fantastic goals took the 18-year-old’s total to eight in the Premier League this season, the highest scorer of his age in the top flight since Wayne Rooney for Everton in 2003-04.
All of Rooney’s nine goals came in the league, however, whereas Greenwood has 15 in all competitions and United could play another 11 games.
Rooney broke into the England squad that season and appeared at Euro 2004. Rashford did the same before Euro 2016, also at the age of 18.
This summer’s Euros would have come too soon for Greenwood, but a 12-month postponement means he will surely be in Gareth Southgate’s plans by next summer.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes the talent is up to the task following his performances this term
Solskjaer, for one, has no doubt that the teenager is up to the challenge.
‘When you play for Manchester United, I think that’s a good enough test,’ he said.
‘If you can handle playing for United, then you can handle playing for any team.
‘Mason has the qualities that not many others have, so he could play for the full England team or the Under 21s. He’ll always score goals. He will fill out, so we’ll keep on building him up in the gym and on the pitch.’
Unlike Rooney, Greenwood was not an early developer, but he has bulked up during lockdown.
The eye for goal is still the same, though. He had two chances against Bournemouth and took both, one with his preferred left foot and the other with the right.
Greenwood has already impressed for England under-21s and could be ready for the big time
The youngster’s progress raises an interesting question over United’s pursuit of Jadon Sancho.
The Borussia Dortmund winger has been earmarked to play on the right of a 4-2-3-1 formation. It was United’s problem position for some time, but not anymore.
Sancho will not come cheap and nor would Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish, another transfer target who would naturally fit into that band of three.
Solskjaer wants good options in every position and will be wary of placing too much burden on Greenwood, but it would be hard to hold him back now.
‘You’ve got no reason not to have confidence in a player like Mason,’ said Rashford. ‘It was never a matter of if he was going to play with us, it was just when. When can we get him involved? Ole has done a terrific job with him.’
Greenwood is the latest English wonderkid to emerge following Jadon Sancho at Dortmund
Greenwood’s goals — drawing United level after Bournemouth had taken a shock lead and pulling them clear when Eddie Howe’s side threatened a comeback at 3-2 — overshadowed a brilliant finish from Martial and Fernandes’ clinical free-kick.
Rashford scored from the penalty spot for his 20th goal of a season that was in danger of being cut short when he was diagnosed with a double back fracture in January.
‘It was definitely difficult news to hear,’ recalled the England striker. ‘I’ve had this injury before, but this time it was quite a bit worse. I want to say how blessed I feel to be back healthy.’
United’s defence did not cover themselves in glory when Junior Stanislas nutmegged Harry Maguire and beat David de Gea at his near post. Later, substitute Eric Bailly handballed to give away a penalty converted by Josh King.
Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford also got on the scoresheet in the rout on Saturday
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are on a roll and are keen to keep putting pressure on Chelsea
But it was a day to sit back and admire United’s attacking verve, and another demonstration that Solskjaer’s vision is getting closer to reality.
This was the fourth time in the last 16 games that United have scored five goals or more.
Not bad considering they only managed it on three occasions in the first 367 games after Sir Alex Ferguson retired.
‘There’s a massive flood of positivity right now and we want to keep that going,’ added Rashford.
Bournemouth seem to be a team heading in the opposite direction. Confidence has ebbed away and they have taken one point from the last eight games, plunging them deep into relegation trouble.
MANCHESTER UNITED (4-2-3-1): De Gea 5; Wan-Bissaka 6, Lindelof 5.5 (Bailly 46min, 5.5), Maguire 5, Shaw 6; Pogba 6.5, Matic 6 (Fred 67); Greenwood 9 (James 75, 6), Fernandes 8, Rashford 7.5 (Ighalo 80); Martial 7 (Mata 80).
Subs not used: Pereira, Romero, McTominay, Williams.
Scorers: Greenwood 29, 54, Rashford 35 (pen), Martial 45+2, Fernandes 59.
Manager: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 8.
BOURNEMOUTH (4-4-2): Ramsdale 5; Smith 4.5 (Stacey 77), Ake 6, Kelly 5, Rico 5; Brooks 5 (Danjuma 46, 6.5), L Cook 6 (H Wilson 66, 6), Lerma 5, Stanislas 7 (Gosling 66, 5); King 6, Solanke 5 (Billing 66, 6).
Subs not used: Boruc, Travers, Surman, Surridge. Scorers: Stanislas 15, King 49 (pen).
Manager: Eddie Howe 5.5.
Referee: Mike Dean 7
They face Tottenham on Thursday, quickly followed by Leicester and Manchester City.
‘Games are running out,’ admitted Stanislas. ‘If we’re going to stay in the division we have to start picking up points.
‘We’ll have no excuses. We can’t keep talking — it’s time for action.’
Source: Read Full Article