How will Erik Ten Hag solve his Mason-Greenwood dilemma? Man Utd boss faces decision after charges were dropped
ERIK TEN HAG felt they had gotten rid of the last distraction in his camp when the club canceled Cristiano Ronaldo’s contract during the World Cup.
Fed up with the Ronaldo question at every press conference, the Manchester United boss was relieved when it was all over.
By lunchtime today at their Carrington training ground, the afterglow of booking a date for the Carabao Cup finals will have faded.
Ten Hag’s streak of 12 wins and a draw in the last 14 will be sidelined ahead of Saturday’s game against Crystal Palace.
The big question now is what Ten Hag – who turned 53 today – and United will do about Mason Greenwood after charges of attempted rape, controlling and coercive behavior and assault are dropped.
It’s an issue that will remain as long as Greenwood remains employed at the club, especially given what Ten Hag said after his appointment when the player was still on bail.
At his unveiling last May, he said: “Let’s wait for the verdict.
“If he’s proven innocent he would get a spot on my team, he’s an exceptional talent who can play on left wing, right wing, center forward and false nine.”
Indeed he is, but it’s all much more complicated, with implications well beyond where he could fit into a 4-2-3-1.
For over a year Greenwood has hoped the police investigation and subsequent charges – which were dropped – would all go away and he could pick up where he left off.
He was the latest United prodigy with the potential to be the next Wayne Rooney.
No doubt this two-footed star was that good. The world was at his feet.
Now it’s about finding his feet again in a world very different from the one he left.
The skills that graced the soccer field are no longer what springs to mind when his name is mentioned after these images and this tape went into the public domain.
Although no further action is taken and his character has no blemish, this will follow him.
United will have taken note of this and everything else surrounding the case as they scrambled to sit down with lawyers today after being caught off guard by the announcement itself.
They must juggle whether a global sports brand as big as theirs can welcome the 21-year-old back into the herd.
They kept paying him and he has two and a half years left on his contract with an option for another year.
If anything, it has to be a payoff if they want him to put his talents elsewhere if there’s something else.
Still officially registered as an Under-21 player, Greenwood is eligible to play for United even though he is not officially included in the squad list for the remainder of the season.
He can claim he has every right to return to Carrington and resume training – although United have ordered him to stay away until they complete their own internal investigation.
Of course, he wouldn’t be anywhere near fit enough to have spent so long on the sidelines, even if he’s stuck to his own regime to keep in shape.
However, that is the least of your worries.
How will his team-mates and the rest of the staff at the club react when he returns?
And what about the Red Devils women’s team?
Outside of the club, social media hardly welcomed him with open arms in sport again today.
Can he mentally recover from all of this or deal with what is to come?
When he plays again, chants will follow him wherever he goes.
Young players are often so good because they play with passion, there is nothing else to think about in their life but football, now not for Greenwood.
All of this is not a judgement, it’s just the way it is.
As a club, United have so much to think about which is why their brief statement today effectively bought them time.
From a purely financial point of view, they have to cope with the reaction of their sponsors.
Nike and EA Sports quickly distanced themselves from Greenwood as this all exploded.
It seems a long time since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer built his bright new future on a vibrant young front of Greenwood, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford at the start of the 2021/22 season.
Greenwood scored a goal in each of their first three games.
After scoring in the first game, a 5-1 win over Leeds, Solskjaer was effusive in his praise.
But now the only question is will he ever be able to play for United again?
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/7295458/how-erik-ten-hag-solve-mason-greenwood-dilemma/ How will Erik Ten Hag solve his Mason-Greenwood dilemma? Man Utd boss faces decision after charges were dropped