Solskjær urges Mason Greenwood to avoid 'second-season syndrome'

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<span>Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/PA</span>
Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/PA

Ole Gunnar Solskjær has admitted it is a challenge to ensure Mason Greenwood does not endure “second-season syndrome” after the Manchester United forward’s standout contribution last season.

Greenwood’s 17 goals in 2019‑20 placed him alongside George Best, Brian Kidd and Wayne Rooney as the club’s most prolific teenager in a season. Yet his finish in the 3-2 FA Cup win against Liverpool on Sunday was only a fourth of the campaign and the first for two months.

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Solskjær was asked whether there was a danger Greenwood could be dazzled by his success last season. “It’s always a challenge,” the United manager said.

“Everything is a test. We talk about the second-season syndrome and if you take your eye off the ball for a slight second the Premier League is unforgiving.

“I have always said that 99% effort is 100% failure. And of course players who ease off in training every single day a bit – I’m not saying this is Mason, I am saying it’s the case for every single one – it’s always a learning curve and test.”

Solskjær tracks player data to ensure no one slackens off. “I feel now that we have maybe overcome those issues because they know my demands on the standards and habits and physical demands and the running stats,” he said.

“I look at them every game, there is no hiding place and I am not hiding that fact either. I want players who can outrun the opponent and that is a demand, but then again when you have got the quality of players sometimes you can accept maybe a little less running but not much because it takes a hell of a good player to be able to rest.

“Maybe once or twice [Cristiano] Ronaldo was allowed to with us [when they were teammates] but there were not many more at Man United.”

Solskjær urged Greenwood to ensure he kicks on. “It’s not just going to happen by itself. He scored against West Ham a while back as well and was expected to kick on,” the manager said. “I’m very confident that Mason will chip in good performances and with goals and assists.”

Marcus Rashford is available for Sheffield United’s visit on Wednesday following the knee problem sustained against Liverpool.

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