Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is certain Mason Greenwood will have “a very big career” at Manchester United – just as the manager is sure about the long-term benefits of taking the teenager out of the limelight at times.
Having got a taste of first-team football last season, the 18-year-old set tongues wagging during pre-season with some fine goals and promising displays that led to effusive praise from the United boss.
Solskjaer went onto describe Greenwood as one of the best finishers he has ever seen on the eve of his first senior goal against Astana – a superb September strike followed by another against Rochdale the following week.
The teenager had to wait until Thursday to add to that haul, showing composure and skill to put United on course for a comprehensive 3-0 win against Partizan Belgrade in the Europa League.
That was Greenwood’s first start in five weeks – a period in which he dropped down to play for the Under-21s in the EFL Trophy – as Solskjaer focuses on developing the teenage talent correctly.
“Mason is going to have a very big career, but sometimes is not the right time to play him,” the former United striker said.
“He knows why he hasn’t played as much. We’re taking our time with him. It’s been a difficult period. Anthony [Martial] has been away, to put all the weight on his shoulder wasn’t right either.
“I think we are finding the right balance between playing him, resting him and training him. He needs to learn the man’s game.
“He’s gone up from the Under-18s last year, now he’s training with the first team every day and you can’t just turn that switch on and off.
“You’ve got to perform every day if you are going to be accepted by a group like this.”
United face Brighton on Sunday in the Premier League looking to improve on a disappointing start to the campaign.