Manchester United’s Under-18s head coach Neil Ryan hailed Mason Greenwood a ‘match-winner’ after his stunning hat-trick in the historic FA Youth Cup win over Chelsea on Monday, but insists that the youngster has a long way to go.
Greenwood’s treble led United to a 4-3 victory which ends Chelsea’s record-equalling five-year reign as Youth Cup winners, and while his boss was full of praise for the 17-year-old’s impact he was also keen to keep a lid on the hype surrounding the striker.
“Mason’s the match-winner it’s clear, you can see he’s going to get you goals and he’s always dangerous, but you can’t underestimate the rest of the team and the work they’ve done,” Ryan told reporters after the match. “D’Mani Mellor ran himself into the ground, and so did every player on the pitch. We’re not just a one-man team, it’s the full squad and we have players to come back.
“Yes, Mason was fantastic, I can’t fault that. Great goals, and he gets a hat-trick in one of the biggest games, and we want more of these big games for our boys."
Greenwood has now scored 22 goals in just 19 games in 2018-19 across Under-18, Under-19 and Under-21 levels. But, while he was named on the bench in last week's Champions League loss at Valencia, Ryan believes the academy is the best place to continue his growth for the time being.
Ryan added: “I think we’re a good club for making sure we quieten all that hype down because he’s still got a long way to go, let’s get it right. He’s doing very, very well this year; he was on the bench last week against Valencia, which was a great experience for him.
“We’ve got great staff who are looking after him on and off the pitch, and for ourselves as coaching staff it’s our jobs to make sure we get him to the next level. It’s going to be a challenge for him, but a great challenge and he’s had a great four or five months so far and we’ve got to keep working with him.”
Skipper Brandon Williams added that Greenwood’s ability is a huge fillip to the rest of the side.
“He’s a special player… Everyone is to be honest, but Mason gives you that extra quality and if you need a goal then he’ll come up with one,” said the impressive left-back.
After seeing off the holders, United now host Brighton in round four with both captain and coach hoping that they can now kick on to bigger and better things in the Youth Cup.
“Everyone knows what we need to do, and everyone’s looking to win the Youth Cup,” added Williams. “We’ll just keep going now and this is a real good booster.”
Ryan agreed: “Any tournament you enter you want to win, don’t you? Every player in there wants to win every tournament they enter.
“We’re in the league, the Premier League Cup quarter-finals, we’re into the next round [of the Youth Cup] and we’ll have a difficult game against Brighton - I’m sure of it - and we’ll just continue to keep going.”
And the coach says his special group of players have shown they have what it takes as a unit to go far.
“We spoke to the group about our identity, and it’s not just about what we do with the ball or tactical things but our identity as a group, as characters and individuals, to show spirit. They did that and it’s going to be something that takes them a long way if they continue with that spirit and that togetherness.”