The 1999 Treble-winning frontman is a big fan of the exciting academy graduate, but has pointed out that senior progress cannot be taken for granted
Andy Cole has urged Mason Greenwood to give his all and continue working hard at Manchester United to ensure his massive potential is fulfilled at the club.
The 18-year-old forward is enjoying a breakthrough season at Old Trafford.
A senior debut was made in 2018-19, but it is the current campaign which has seen him come to the fore under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Greenwood has registered 10 goals across all competitions, including four in the Premier League, and is considered to be a hot prospect for the future.
Cole is among those expecting big things from the youngster, having followed his career closely, but has warned that greater dedication to his craft will be required in order to reach the very top.
“I’ve been very impressed with him,” Cole, speaking from Marriott Hotels Seat of Dreams at Old Trafford, told Goal.
“I can remember when he joined as a scholar and I had to do an induction day and everyone was telling me what a player he was going to be.
“To have seen him do his induction day and then play with the kids and now the first team, you can just see the quality he has. Long may it continue – as long as it doesn’t go to his head.
“Ole has come out and mentioned that he doesn’t train the best. When you are that age you have to train a little better than you think you are working. You’re young and still learning your trade so you have to give a bit more.”
If Greenwood can prove himself worthy of more regular game time, then he could come in contention for a central striking role.
United have favoured a lone attacker in recent times, but Cole admits there are benefits to be found in playing with a pair.
A man who used to line up alongside the likes of Solskjaer, Dwight Yorke and Teddy Sheringham said: “The only person who can answer that is Ole. The way Manchester United play now is obviously completely different to my time.
“In my time you had two strikers. When we had boys on the wing like Becks and Giggsy, you could see why we had two up front.
“We weren’t even going 4-4-2, we had the intelligence of Dwight or myself, or Ole would drop in there, and you just needed one up front. It wasn’t a rigid 4-4-2, that wasn’t the case.”
Cole added on the penchant for a solitary frontman in modern football: “It’s a trend to play one up front, someone who’s lively.
“The way a lot of teams play now, there are not many balls knocked into the channels for a forward to get hold of and try to knit things together. Everything is usually played in front of you.
“I get frustrated sometimes when you see a striker not prepared to make a run in behind when there is 20-25 yards of space. He wants it to his feet and I’m pulling my hair out.
“If you force them back, by the time you have done that they don’t want to run in there anymore so you’re going to get your space anyway. Everything is now to feet, to feet, meaning that you have got to mix it up as a centre-forward.”
Cole, who helped United to an historic Treble in 1999, went on to say of playing with two up top: “The benefit is that you play off each other. I was comfortable playing like that because whoever I played with, I was confident of playing in a partnership as two individuals.
“For me, growing up, that’s what I was used to – with someone else up front or someone just behind. It does make life a little bit easier for you, especially if that partnership works well.”
United will be hoping to find attacking inspiration from somewhere when they return to Premier League action on Monday with a crucial trip to fellow top-four hopefuls Chelsea.
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