Give young Man Utd youngster Mason Greenwood a break or face ruining an all too rare talent
Ever since Mason Greenwood was dropped from the England squad for his well-publicised indiscretion during the team’s trip to Iceland, the stories over the youngster's disciplinary problems have been unrelenting. With the issues far from catastrophic, the intense media scrutiny could be a great deal of unnecessary harm, writes Pete Hall.
Mason Greenwood of Manchester United celebrates scoring their first goal during the UEFA Champions League Group H stage match between Manchester United and RB Leipzig at Old Trafford on October 28
Even with some red-top tabloid newspapers ceasing to exist, the desire for kiss-and-tell type footballer stories is as strong as it ever was.
And ever since Mason Greenwood was dropped from the England squad for his well-publicised indiscretion during the team’s trip to Iceland in September, the talented teenager has been the focus of a rather intense stream of stories surrounding his conduct.
While Greenwood has not behaved in exemplary manner, his misdemeanours are not exactly shocking, not that it has stopped the printing of plenty of negative stories. Greenwood was warned by Manchester United over his timekeeping, that much is true, while he has been left out of United squads due to a perceived lack of sleep, and effort in training.
While a footballer doing anything wrong in training is somewhat interesting, the 19-year-old is not exactly painting the town red until the early hours, or trying his luck in the dentist's chair. Any other player, who was not so highly rated, or playing for a less high profile club, would certainly not have attracted such attention, for what has been several months, for seemingly rather innocuous wrongdoings.
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'"Of course it starts with the player himself, but I can empathise with Mason Greenwood having been through that 'build you up to knock you down' media scrutiny," Crystal Palace midfielder Andros Townsend said on talkSPORT this week.
'It's tough and he needs players around him like Harry Magiure, experienced players who have been through it, to put their arm around him. He needs his manager to stay by his side, which I know Ole probably will.
He needs family and good friends around him, and the other thing is he needs to see a sports psychologist. Somebody who has spoken to other players in his position and who knows what's going on from the outside to help him through it.
Having taken to the Premier League like a duck to water, after plundering goals for fun at every age group through United's academy, it is easy to see Greenwood as any elite footballer, comfortable in his wealth and lifestyle.
However, being so young, and a shy, reserved character, this new-found fame will not sit as comfortably with Greenwood as it does with others. Plus, although not as widely reported as the more sensationised Greenwood stories out there, he has been dealing with a personal tragedy, too.
Greenwood dedicated his goal scored against RB Leipzig to his friend and Manchester City youngster Jeremy Wisten, who took his own life at the age of 18 last month, and then "liked" a social media post that defended Greenwood.
"'Greenwood looks tired' 'Greenwood isn't trying hard enough' 'Greenwood needs to fix up' Mason Greenwood just lost a close friend to suicide and has been endlessly attacked and abused by football fans and the media for months now, leave the kid alone," the post read.
Former United striker Andy Cole also got behind Greenwood, calling for him to be left alone as he is "just a baby", while Gary Neville offered his support.
Greenwood's talent is one that should be cherished. Newspapers may be not be as intrusive as they once were in the aftermath of the Leveson inquiry, but they can still do plenty of damage to those more fragile.
The stories are out there on Greenwood, the headlines written. That is enough. Digging for something that is not there, with a young, introverted teenager, has the potential to scupper something that could be very special indeed.