Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images
Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford has said the way to get the best out of team-mate Mason Greenwood is to “let him just play.”
The pair played regularly together during pre-season, and 17-year-old Greenwood replaced Rashford, 21, with four minutes to go of United’s 4-0 win over Chelsea at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Sunday.
Red Devils manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is expected to give young players plenty of opportunities in 2019-20.
Rashford, who has recently made the step up from United’s youth ranks to become a first-team regular, has talked up the qualities of Greenwood and centre-back Axel Tuanzebe, per Sam Carney on United’s official website:
“Mason is quite laid-back. He just likes to enjoy his football. I always think to myself that he’s not someone who you would necessarily give loads of information to. Just tell him a few bits and let him just play; that’s how he gets about with his football.
“For me, it’s no surprise to see the progress Axel has made. I’ve been playing with Axel since we were kids and I remember, at about 16 or 17, he was the toughest one-v-one defender that I’d ever trained or played against. I’ve always expected this from him. It’s funny how things work out, but now’s his time.”
There was a possibility that Tuanzebe, 21, may go out on loan this season, but he was kept at the club after some fine pre-season performances:
Paul Hirst @hirstclass
Looks like Axel Tuanzebe will be staying with MUFC, rather than heading out on loan. Deserves it after good performances in pre-season.
He was an unused substitute against Chelsea, but the fact he was named in the squad ahead of Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones was a potential indication of where he lies in the pecking order:
Rob Dawson @RobDawsonESPN
Solskjaer said on Friday that “you will tell by the team selection” who he wants here this season. Telling that Tuanzebe makes the bench ahead of Smalling, Jones and Rojo.
In Sunday’s Old Trafford win over the Blues, in which Rashford scored twice, Victor Lindelof and £80 million summer-signing Harry Maguire both played superbly:
Sam Pilger @sampilger
Harry Maguire was immense at the heart of the #MUFC back four today, and alongside Victor Lindelof the club might have found their best central defensive partnership since Ferdinand and Vidic
It seems clear they will be United’s starting centre-back partnership this term, but England youth international Tuanzebe could well get his chance when one of them is injured or needs a rest.
Greenwood, meanwhile, is sure to be granted playing time across the front line this season.
Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard and Rashford started in attack against Chelsea, with Andreas Pereira in the No. 10 role.
After Romelu Lukaku’s departure to Inter Milan, though, along with the fact Alexis Sanchez continues to struggle at Old Trafford, Greenwood is arguably the next option in attack with Daniel James.
It would be no surprise to see Greenwood granted plenty of minutes this term under Solskjaer despite the fact he is still a teenager.