EPL

Man Utd must avoid Owen-like burnout with Greenwood – Ferdinand

By Sports Desk February 04, 2020

Manchester United must resist the urge to place too much importance on Mason Greenwood so early in his career because to do so could have lasting negative results similar to those suffered by Michael Owen, according to Rio Ferdinand.

Greenwood broke into the United first-team squad last season and made three appearances, including a debut start in the defeat to Cardiff City on the final day.

His role in the squad unsurprisingly increased this term after the departure of Romelu Lukaku, with the 18-year-old making 32 appearances across all competitions.

A recent injury to Marcus Rashford means he could find himself a more regular starter in the final months of the season, but former United captain Ferdinand is concerned over-reliance on Greenwood too early could see him suffering a decline like Owen.

Former Liverpool, Real Madrid and United striker Owen came through the academy at Anfield in the 1990s and became a superstar as a teenager, then winning the Ballon d'Or in 2001, but he was ravaged by injuries and fitness issues later in his career.

Speaking at the launch of BT's 4-3-3 Home Nations campaign, Ferdinand said: "The kid [Greenwood] is a fantastic goal-scorer.

"All through the youth levels as a kid, he's always found it easy scoring goals. He plays off both feet – he's a fantastic talent, but he needs to be nurtured correctly.

"You can't expect him to come in and play every game just because there's an injury to Marcus and then put it all on his shoulders.

"A good yardstick is to look at someone like Michael Owen. He came through as a 'boy wonder', huge expectations [on him] and he played far too many games from a young age.

"I think that was a big factor in him having big injuries later on in his career, slowing him down. That's something to look at, to make sure we don't have the same mistake with Mason - nurture him the right way."

Ferdinand is also concerned about Greenwood potentially being under too much pressure at United, particularly if he does take on a more important role with Rashford injured and Anthony Martial failing to convince in a central role.

"It [coping with the pressure] is difficult if he's got no one around him with the experience to guide him," Ferdinand continued.

"You just hope he's got players or staff in there that can help him and guide him through that period and allow him to understand the pressure isn't [on] him. He's too young.

"There's other players in there that can take on that pressure on their shoulders and are experienced enough to do that. It's up to other people to do that."

 

BT's 4-3-3 Home Nations strategy will use the power of football and technology to release the potential of para and disability, grassroots, and women's football communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Related items

  • De Jong 'not sure' if Barcelona can still win LaLiga De Jong 'not sure' if Barcelona can still win LaLiga

    Frenkie de Jong is unsure of Barcelona's title credentials despite their improving LaLiga form.

    De Jong scored the opener and created a late second for substitute Riqui Puig during Sunday's 2-0 win at Elche.

    That made it four wins out of four for Barca in Spain's top flight since the turn of the year, although they will be 10 points behind Atletico Madrid having played a game more if the leaders are able to beat Valencia in Sunday's late kick-off.

    "I'm not sure," he told LaLiga TV when asked whether Ronald Koeman's side are back in the title race.

    "We have to win our games and we'll see where we end up towards the end of the season."

    Nevertheless, the Netherlands midfielder has no doubt Barca are an improved side after a tough start to life under his former national team boss Koeman.

    "Since the new year we're a lot better and we've played most of the games away from home and won all of them in LaLiga. We're in a better moment," De Jong said.

    "I think [beating Elche] will do us good, we've worked hard, especially now in the new year. We're growing and improving as a team and hopefully we can keep improving."

    De Jong's tally of five goals across his season-and-a-half with Barca has already bettered his total of Eredivisie strikes for Ajax (four) across five campaigns, and the 23-year-old also feels that the imperative to improve applies to him personally, even after a man-of-the-match display.

    "Yes, I do think I can play better but it’s not only about goals and assists," he added. "Of course I'm happy but there's more to come."

  • Elche 0-2 Barcelona: De Jong keeps Koeman's men in title hunt Elche 0-2 Barcelona: De Jong keeps Koeman's men in title hunt

    Frenkie de Jong played a prominent role as Barcelona beat LaLiga strugglers Elche 2-0 to stay in touch with the leading pack.

    Lionel Messi completed his two-match suspension for a red card during the Supercopa de Espana defeat to Athletic Bilbao and Barca struggled to create clear chances in his absence against well-organised opponents.

    But an error from Diego Gonzalez allowed De Jong to take advantage in the 39th-minute – the Netherlands international unlikely to score an easier one than his fifth LaLiga goal.

    A minute from time, De Jong then turned provider as he crossed for Riqui Puig to head home, ensuring Barca are three points behind Real Madrid, although they will be 10 points shy of Atletico Madrid again if the leaders are able to beat Valencia later on Sunday.

  • Fernandes benched by Man Utd as Salah returns for Liverpool Fernandes benched by Man Utd as Salah returns for Liverpool

    Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer left Bruno Fernandes out of his starting line-up for Sunday's FA Cup clash with Liverpool.

    Fernandes, who has been United's shining light since arriving from Sporting CP almost 12 months ago, was only a substitute for the fourth-round game.

    This season he has scored 15 goals and supplied nine assists in 28 games across all competitions from his advanced midfield role, but there have been questions asked about his form in recent weeks.

    He has just one goal and no assists in four Premier League appearances since the turn of the year.

    Into the United team went former Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek as Solskjaer decided the game presented a chance to rotate his squad, making five changes to the side that won 2-1 at Fulham on Wednesday.

    Solskjaer explained why Fernandes did not start, saying on BBC One: "It's rotation in the squad.

    "Donny needs to be playing games as well and it's a big game for Donny to come into.

    "He's done nothing wrong when he's been around the club so I'm looking forward to seeing him in there."

    Premier League leaders United also brought in goalkeeper Dean Henderson, centre-back Victor Lindelof, midfielder Scott McTominay and forward Marcus Rashford, as David De Gea, Eric Bailly, Fred and Anthony Martial dropped out.

    Liverpool also showed five changes as Jurgen Klopp looked for a response to Thursday's shock 1-0 home defeat to Burnley, which ended a 68-game unbeaten run at Anfield in the Premier League.

    Teenage centre-back Rhys Williams came in for the absent Joel Matip, while James Milner and Curtis Jones were selected as Xherdan Shaqiri and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain dropped to the bench.

    Sadio Mane and Divock Origi were also substitutes as Klopp gave starts to Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, with the Old Trafford clash coming a week on from these two sides battling out a dreary goalless draw at Anfield in the league.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.