It's been a torrid start to the season for Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with the team sitting in a lowly 12th place in the league coming out of the second international break.
Aside from the opening day drubbing of Chelsea, there haven't been many bright moments; until Friday, when Mason Greenwood put pen to paper on a new four-year deal which will see him remain at the club until 2023.
The 18-year-old has long been regarded as the next supreme talent to come out of the United Academy, where so many club legends first began their careers. Greenwood joined the Red Devils back when he was only six before making his way up through the ranks and quickly forging a reputation for himself.
In 2017/18, the youngster joined up with the Under-18 squad and, despite being eligible for the Under-16 side, he finished as the top scorer that season in the Under-18 Premier League North. In May 2018, he also ended up being named Player of the Tournament as the youth side claimed the ICGT Trophy in the Netherlands.
You can kind of see where this is going, right?
The 2018/19 season saw the starlet take his game to the next level and announce himself as one of the most exciting young English players around. In the
Good 4-3 win vs Blackburn today happy to get my first hat trick of the season pic.twitter.com/bADwTOPK1I— Mason Greenwood (@_MasonGreenwood) September 15, 2018
It's not often you see this.
But, what you see even less, is a player taking set-pieces with both feet. Left foot? Right foot? Not a problem. In fact, it's his exceptional technique that allows him to score goals such as the one he produced against Newcastle for the Under-23s last season. What? You haven't seen it? Well, that 25-yard stunner was with his left, rifling into the top corner.
There aren't many better times to score two outstanding free kicks than against your bitter rivals, and Greenwood did exactly this against Liverpool for the Under-18s. Two right-footed free kicks and one assist to help his side come from two goals down to win.
Mason Greenwood on fire — VERSUS (@vsrsus) January 26, 2019
The 17-year-old has just scored 2 free-kicks and assisted a third goal in Manchester United U18’s FA Cup win against Liverpool.
That’s now 26 goals and 9 assists in 22 games this season. pic.twitter.com/FITuEfrOtj
The player's dedication and work ethic is second to none and that is exactly why Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes he has such a bright future. After making his debut for the senior side in the win over Paris Saint-Germain last season, he was slowly integrated into the first-team squad, eventually making his full Premier League debut in the defeat to Cardiff on the final day of last season.
This season, he has featured nine times for Solskjaer's side and has scored one goal in the Europa League and one in the Carabao Cup. Although he has featured six times in the league this term, he is yet to start a game.
This must change.
For all the talk of how unbelievably atrocious Manchester United have been at scoring goals this season, they have an outstanding prospect on their hands who has all the qualities needed to boost the squad. But there's no point bringing him on with eight minutes remaining and putting him on the right wing in the hope that he can produce the goods.
That's what happened in the draw at Southampton and, despite having only a matter of moments to make an impact, he still forced a fine save out of Angus Gunn. Similar scenarios occurred in the draws with Wolves and Arsenal.
He has already rescued a struggling United side twice this season, scoring the all-important winner against Astana (his first for the senior side), as well as the opener in the eventual win over Rochdale. Crucially, he played 90 minutes in both of these matches and if given the same time in the league, he will have a similar impact.
What has become abundantly clear is that the forward is a natural and proven finisher. If given the opportunity, he will most likely score. Coincidentally, the team appear to be struggling for goals. So, very simply put, now is the time for Greenwood to get more starts in the league.
Of course, he has only just turned 18 and the club are still keen to ensure that he isn't dragged into the limelight to become the poster boy just yet, but with the likes of Marcus Rashford continuing to struggle in front of goal, the teenager deserves his chance in the team.
Solskjaer is desperately searching for the winning formula with his side continuing to put in limp displays, and Greenwood has proven in his short time with the senior side that he is more than capable of doing what the team has struggled to do all season: find the net.
But first, he simply must start more games in the league, for his sake and the club's sake.