How Mason Greenwood’s breakthrough season compares to other Man Utd kids
Mason Greenwood may have made his Manchester United debut towards the end of last season, but 2019-20 has seen him take a big step forward in his career.
The striker has one of the best goals-per-90 minutes records in the league, and has also chipped in with strikes in other domestic and European competitions.
But how does he compare to other young Man Utd players of years past? We’ve taken a look back.
Greenwood has scored five league goals this season at a rate of 0.78 every 90 minutes – Sergio Aguero is the only player with more than 500 minutes to score at a quicker rate.
Not only that, but he has four Europa League goals (at a comparable rate), as well as finding the net in the FA Cup and League Cup this season. It’s becoming increasingly clear that, a lot of the time, he’s a one chance, one goal kind of player.
“He is just going to be better and better,” manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said after Greenwood netted against Watford. “He is only 18, not fully grown into his body. He’s not like Wayne Rooney at 18. In a couple of years’ time he will be more or less the complete No9.”
Manchester United’s youngest ever debutant hasn’t kicked on as hoped, but remains a part of the set-up at Old Trafford.
The then-16-year-old featured on the final day of the 2016-17 season but is yet to have what anyone would describe as a ‘breakthrough’ season.
Now 19, Gomes is yet to match the 25 minutes of Premier League football he played last season, though he’s featured more in Europe.
After making his debut in the 1992-93 Uefa Cup, Neville had to wait more than a year for a proper run of games.
Of course, when they did arrive – he played 18 league games in 1994-95 – they were a precursor to something much bigger.
What does this mean? Well, maybe that Greenwood has been trusted greatly by his manager, but those who haven’t progressed quite as quickly shouldn’t start panicking just yet.
We feel a little bad for Macheda. After all, your breakthrough season shouldn’t also be your best ever for a club, especially when it only begins in the spring.
The Italian scored twice in five games in 2008-09 but never scored two in a season for United again.
At least things have picked up for him in Greece, where he’s in the midst of a second successive double-figure season for goals.
A few months after Macheda’s debut, King played his first nine minutes for United in the League Cup.
While things didn’t work out for him in Manchester, his teenage breakthrough did eventually lead him down a path to the Premier League, where he needs just five more goals to hit the 50 mark.
King could easily be looking at hitting that target in a United shirt, having been heavily linked with a January return, but will instead see the season out at Bournemouth.
🗣 Josh King on his failed move to Man Utd: "I have to watch what I say.
"I had some faith that it was going to happen.
"And it was a bit sensitive for me considering that I moved to England as a 16-year-old to achieve my dream and wanted to reach that goal at Man Utd." pic.twitter.com/IU7o75a1fc
— Goal (@goal) February 10, 2020
Poole wasn’t just signed for the reserves when he arrived from Newport – indeed, he made his debut in Marcus Rashford’s breakthrough game against FC Midtjylland in the 2015-16 Europa League.
The Welsh defender didn’t have the same impact as Rashford, though, and he had a few loan spells away from Old Trafford before leaving for Tranmere in the summer of 2019.
After one League Cup game in 2010-11 and two more the following season, Morrison’s permanent switch to West Ham came as a bit of a suprise.
He was expected to have a bright future at United at the very least, but the nomadic career which followed continues to suggest it was, in retrospect, always likely to be an uphill battle.
Morrison joined Middlesbrough on loan from Sheffield United in January, in a move you can be forgiven for having missed.
Just as Pique looked like he was making a real breakthrough with United, he was on his way back to Barcelona.
That said, his 13-game season in 2007-08, including a not-insignificant role in the run to the Champions League title, came three years after a debut against Crewe in the League Cup.
Three games in his first season, seven in his second and 13 after a loan spell in Spain. You sense he’d have become a regular wherever he chose to continue his career.
Rossi and Pique made their debuts as 17-year-olds in the same season, but the Italian got even less of a look-in than his one-time colleague.
A 2005-06 breakthrough brought four goals in 12 games, and it might have been more if, as with Greenwood, those ahead of him in the queue had spent more time on the sidelines.
Rossi has suffered with injuries throughout his career, and has not had a club since 2018.
Oh, while we’re on the topic of perenially injured strikers…
Welbeck’s first season wasn’t too dissimilar to Greenwood’s second, with a return of three goals from 13 games and a real sense that he was one for the present as well as the future.
He might have needed to work through some loan spells before establishing himself, but establish himself he did… until United decided he was better off at Arsenal.
Butt’s career panned out in a similar way to Neville’s in the early years, with a sniff of football but a wait to be a real part of the team.
As with his Class of 92 colleague, Butt announced himself properly in the 1994-95 season and enjoyed a fruitful United career lasting more than a decade from debut to farewell game.
He’s even stayed involved with the club, serving as part of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s coaching staff.
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Eagles was part of that group of Fergie debutants who never quite ‘made it’ at Old Trafford but didn’t disappear without a trace either.
Like Greenwood, he made his debut as a cup substitute, albeit at Elland Road rather than the Parc des Princes, but he finished with just 17 appearances for the Red Devils.
Eagles is still playing, for anyone wondering – he joined Oldham Athletic over the summer.
Garner was another to make his debut last season, earning a brief run-out in a victory over Crystal Palace, but he hasn’t featured quite as much as Greenwood this time around.
The midfielder had to wait until October for another game, but it was also his first start for United, in the Europa League against Partizan Belgrade.
Garner has since added a couple more starts in Europe, as well as picking up more league minutes. Could he get a start in the top-flight before the end of the season?
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) March 13, 2019
Like Greenwood, Danish striker Timm was just 17 when he made his United debut. It even came in the Champions League, too – specifically, in a 3-0 defeat away to a Yakubu-inspired Maccabi Haifa.
Unlike Greenwood, though, he didn’t add to his first game: after getting into off-field trouble, he eventually left Old Trafford without playing another minute for the first team and retired before turning 30 after becoming disillusioned with the game.