Man Utd warned Rashford was exception not the rule as Greenwood gets big billing at 17

The Red Devils’ academy coach, Nicky Butt, is hoping a teenage talent will be given the necessary time in which to fulfil his undoubted potential

Manchester United have been warned that Marcus Rashford was the exception not the rule when it comes to academy graduates, with Nicky Butt urging patience with Mason Greenwood.

Back in February 2016, an exciting teenage talent was handed a senior debut by Louis van Gaal.

Rashford made an immediate impression, netting twice in a Europa League clash with Midtjylland and another brace on his first Premier League outing against Arsenal.

He also found the target on his senior international bow for England, with his rapid rise to prominence seeing him billed as a superstar of the future.

Rashford has gone on to reach 170 appearances for United, 31 for his country and record 13 goals in each of the last two seasons at club level.

A similar rise is being mooted for 17-year-old Greenwood, after being handed Champions League and Premier League minutes by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but Butt wants to see him given time to develop.

A member of the Red Devils’ fabled Class of ’92 told the club’s official website of emerging talent at Old Trafford: “You’ve got to look at our academy players as potential Manchester United players in the first team for 10-15 years.

“That’s what we want – to breed our own players to stay at the club forever and be the leaders. To carry the baton for the next ones coming up. That is how it should work.

“If you rush them too soon, throw them in when they’re not ready or in the wrong game, then it can set them back a long time.

“Sometimes it does work… look at Marcus. He was thrown in and never looked back. But it’s something we’ve got to study and communicate up and down the levels of coaching staff, from the first team back down to the youth team to see who is ready.

“Some are ready physically, tactically and technically but they aren’t ready mentally.

“If they’re only 16, 17 or 18, it’s a really massive thing, going to Old Trafford and playing in front of 75,000 fans, making mistakes and being able to carry that burden on their shoulders and go again. The timing has to be right.”

Mason Greenwood Manchester United

Butt added on Greenwood, who was named United’s Young Player of the Year for 2018-19: “Mason is a phenomenal talent.

“He’s done unbelievably well for me in the Under-19s this year and done well when he’s gone up into the Under-23s, he’s playing for England and he’s had his first-team debut.  

“They have to be ready and it's not where they are now but where they are in 18 months.

Article continues below

“As a club, we have to make sure we don’t go overboard on players like Mason. Yes, they’re very talented. Yes, they’re unbelievably good players. Yes, we hope they play for Manchester United. But how many times have we said that about a player in the last 15 years?

“We are very confident that Mason and the rest of the lads we talk about will have good careers here. But there has always got to be a reality check. It’s got to be a case of okay, as and when it happens, it happens.

“In the meantime, all the process is to get to where he wants to be when he’s 20 or 21, not where he wants to be at 17 or 18.”