Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says FA must do more to protect young players after Mason Greenwood incident with England

Mark Critchley
·3-min read
Mason Greenwood with coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Manchester United via Getty Images)
Mason Greenwood with coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Manchester United via Getty Images)

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was at loggerheads with Gareth Southgate and the Football Association on Friday over their use of Manchester United teenager Mason Greenwood following his expulsion from the England camp earlier this month.

The United manager used his first press conference of the new Premier League season to question Greenwood's involvement for Nations League meetings with Iceland and Denmark earlier this month.

The 18-year-old and Manchester City's Phil Foden were sent home midway through the international break – just days after making their senior debuts – for a liaison with two women inside the team's Reykjavik hotel, behaviour that breached the camp's coronavirus protocols.

Solskjaer objected to Greenwood's call-up – announced on 25 August – on the grounds that United's season had finished less than 10 days earlier with their Europa League semi-final defeat to Sevilla. The Norwegian was also unhappy that Greenwood was selected to take part in a press conference while away with England given his young age.

"I tried my best to give him a rest over the summer," said Solskjaer. "The club, we asked specifically and pointed out that he should have had a rest. He needs it mentally and physically after that season he had. First thing that happens is: One, he's called up, and two, he's right there in the press."

Solskjaer went on to add that he has not spoken to Southgate about the matter, suggesting that he does not have the England manager's phone number, though said he would discuss it with him in the future.

"The club put a request [to withdraw Greenwood] into the FA, the club secretary did," he said. "It's just one of these feelings that you have for players. Maybe of course I should have got hold of Gareth's number. He's not called me after either so next time I speak to him we'll discuss it."

When asked whether the FA should do more to protect young players on international duty, Solskjaer said: "100 percent. That's why I tried not to let him go this summer, but it's in their right to call him up. Then again, okay, you call him up. You don't have to put him in front of the world cameras first day, or second, I don't know.

"When Mason says what he says – he did well in that interview, I'm not worried about that – but still it's drip feeding in, and I felt like he needed a rest more than being exposed to that environment. But I'm sure when he gets into this daily routine, club routine, he'll be back to his normal self."

Manchester United forward Mason GreenwoodManchester United via Getty Images
Manchester United forward Mason GreenwoodManchester United via Getty Images

Though Greenwood's involvement with the squad is thought to have been informally discussed between United and the FA in the standard dialogue held with clubs before international breaks, it is understood that no formal request to withdraw him was made.

The FA are known to consult with clubs on player welfare and fatigue and also make them aware when putting players up for interview. No complaint regarding Greenwood's appearance at the press conference is thought to have been made.

Greenwood trained alone upon returning early from international duty, but Solskjaer said on Friday that the teenager will be available for selection in United's opening game of the season at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday.

"With the testing and Covid protocols, he trained by himself for a little while. We had some tests done and as soon as possible he was with us. He's a big part of this group," Solskjaer said.

"This is where he feels at home. He's not comfortable; we challenge him, we've got people looking after him."

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