Mason Greenwood has gone from academy prodigy to Manchester United regular and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s assistant Chris McKenna has opened up on his development
Kieran McKenna never had any doubts that Mason Greenwood could make the grade at Manchester United.
The coach arrived at Old Trafford back in 2016 as the Under-18 coach and had already been made completely aware of the prodigious talent of the young striker.
And it took a young Mason Greenwood just one game to prove to McKenna that he had a big future, identifying some of the characteristics that has made his transition to the Premier League so seamless.
“I remember the first time I saw Mason play, in a game at the Cliff for the Under-13s,” McKenna told the club’s official site. “He was a lot smaller than he is now, obviously, but even relative to his age he wasn’t particularly big at that stage.
“I remember him picking the ball up on the right, pulling off a double lollipop, coming inside and shooting on his left foot with really explosive power.
“Five minutes later he went on his right and smacked one with his right foot, so it was that two footedness really and ability to strike the ball with power with both feet that stood out.”
Greenwood’s finishing has been his best trait since breaking into the side in 2018 and that was a trait McKenna instantly built around.
He explained: “For Mason, a lot of that was around his shooting and his ability to beat people one-on-one, so you make sure you hone in on those skills and make sure you make those strengths as strong as they possibly can be. You have to really exaggerate his strengths.”
United bosses at Carrington instantly mapped out the kind of pathway that would see him move from schoolboy to senior star.
In the years in between, McKenna suggested that his character and temperament ensured Greenwood made that exact journey, making his senior debut at the end of the 2018/19 season.
It wasn’t all plain sailing however, with the forward enduring a few early bouts of growing pains after making the move to senior football.
“When he first went up with the first team in 2019, he went as a first-year scholar and went to America on that tour,” McKenna continued. “He did well but you could see still in training he wasn’t quite able to get the success he was before.
“Physically he maybe wasn’t quite able to get his shots off, or not able to get away from defenders.
“At that point he probably wasn’t quite ready, but over the course of the next six or seven months, watching him in training every day, you could see what was happening.
“He was getting his shots off more, getting away from the defenders, able to hold off people a little bit more.”
Greenwood is certainly getting off his shots at the start of the new season, scoring three times in United’s first five games of the Premier League season.