Ralf Rangnick thinks Mason Greenwood hasn’t trained enough to be fit in his first game as caretaker manager but the teenager has certainly done enough in the Champions League to make him watch. reconsider that position for the second time.
Manchester United’s interim boss says Greenwood needs to show in his training sessions that he “deserve” game time after letting him come off the bench in his first game against Crystal Palace.
However, the 20-year-old made a strong argument against Young Boys in the middle of the week that he should pair up with Cristiano Ronaldo on this weekend’s trip to Norwich.
His goal was just another example of the remarkable finishing technique he has in his closet.
The difficulty in making his shot against the Swiss side was that his expected goal count (xG) for the game was just 0.13 and he still managed to find the target.
No wonder Ole Gunnar Solskjaer declared two years ago that Greenwood was the club’s best finisher.
With Ronaldo doing well to dispel any myths that he cannot play in attack in his last two performances, he is guaranteed his place in the starting line-up.
Given Rangnick’s tendency to play two players above, the question mark is who will pair him.
The majority of Greenwood’s performances at first team level have come from the right wing, with doubts over his physical ability to lead the No 9 squad at such a young age. That’s the view Rangnick also seems to hold despite only having some training sessions to see Greenwood in action.
So how does Rangnick see him as a good fit?
“I think Mason is a nine-and-a-half,” the German said on Wednesday night. “He can play as a striker, he can also play from the wing, he can play with another striker, he is very technical, left-footed, right-footed.
“Sometimes he looks a bit… not at the athletic level. I think we have to develop him there physically, but technically, everything he can do with the ball is excellent.
“I am not worried about his technical level. We need to develop physically and mentally so that he becomes the strongest version of himself and if we do that he can become a regular player and a very valuable player. value for our club in the future. ”
In the two games Rangnick has managed, he has started with a strike partnership.
Against Crystal Palace, Ronaldo and Marcus Rashford started in a 4-2-2-2 formation, while Greenwood and teenager Anthony Elanga in a 4-1-3-2 changed up the game. with Young Boys.
Rashford has yet to find his best form since returning from injury; he’s not bad against Palace but he’s not as outstanding as Greenwood in the Champions League either.
In fact, the dual striker system seems perfectly set up to keep Greenwood going strong.
The pressure to lead the line in a central striker position will be relieved by the experience of having Ronaldo at his side and Greenwood can cover the Portuguese when those pressing issues are in question. .
As a strike partner, they have qualities to complement each other. Greenwood has the ability to run dangerously in the back to cause defensive problems, while Ronaldo is a potential threat in the box and both are clinical in front of goal.
Of course, Rashford has similar qualities, but the 24-year-old missed the start of the season because of a shoulder injury and his finishing quality is not on the same level as Greenwood’s.
Rangnick has suggested that his team against Norwich on Saturday night will be a lot like, if not like, the XI team that beat Palace last weekend.
That should give Rashford another chance to impress his new manager. However, with Greenwood breathing heavily, it’s an opportunity he needs to seize as there’s no guarantee he’ll start every week.
Some food for thought for Rangnick ahead of a busy festive period.