Mason Greenwood’s fate has been put on hold for far too long. Manchester United cannot afford to wait any longer and must make a decision.
Surprisingly, the club appears to be considering bringing him back. The Athletic reported earlier this month that this was the idea before postponing a planned announcement.
According to the Sun, Greenwood might be reinstated as soon as next week. United might still change its mind and go a different path.
It would be difficult to reintegrate Greenwood into the first team. Since his arrest in 2022, the striker has been treated as an outcast, with sponsorship deals canceled and his image erased from FIFA video games.
To call him a contentious and divided character is an understatement. Greenwood’s comeback would be one of Manchester United’s most audacious decisions in the club’s history.
Before making the decision to bring Greenwood back, the club must brace itself for what is to come, and it will not be pretty.
1. Serious backlash
Mason Greenwood’s return to Manchester United risks harming the club’s reputation. This must not be overlooked. The club is one with which supporters and personnel from all walks of life are proud to be connected. If Greenwood is brought back, everything will be different.
While some may be able to accept Greenwood’s homecoming and the story of a young man’s rehabilitation, others may never get over what he was accused of, as well as the tapes and photographs that spread online. They are not going to change their minds, and they should not be expected to.
The backlash from Manchester United fans will be significant. Some will abandon the club entirely. The outcry from other fans will be equally loud. And the media will swing into high gear.
This is more than a sports story. Mason Greenwood’s return will be a news story, with front-page coverage in newspapers and international interest. And it will not be pretty for United.
According to the club’s most recent statement, there is a broader context to what is in the public domain. However, we have no idea what that could be.
Greenwood’s return will overshadow Manchester United’s season and the club in the long run. It’s just not what’s required.
2. Press conferences took precedence.
Erik ten Hag, the club’s manager, will be in the crosshairs of international media attention. That is not where the Dutchman wishes to be.
We observed how questions about Cristiano Ronaldo and football matters dominated Ten Hag’s press briefings last season, overshadowing everything else. If Mason Greenwood returns, this will return, but with a significantly more sinister twist.
The impact on the team would be significant. It’s a distraction from which no one at the club can get away. Individual players’ activities will be scrutinized; simply by associating with Greenwood, they will be brought into doubt.
None of this fits the tranquil atmosphere Manchester United wants to establish in order to achieve success. Chaos is on the way.
3. A protracted comeback
Assume Mason Greenwood is cleared to return. Even in 2023, don’t anticipate him to have a good impact on the field.
This footballer hasn’t played in 18 months. He hasn’t even had the opportunity to train professionally.
It is difficult for any player to overcome losing such a significant amount of time in their careers. Let alone at such a critical juncture in their growth.
With the severe mental pressure on the player, there is little reason to assume he will be successful if he returns to the high levels required by Manchester United. Is all of this fuss really worth it?
The return would be phased and drawn out. Greenwood may possibly be assigned to the under-21s to restore fitness and form before returning to the main team for the first time since January 2022.
It could be 2024 before he makes his first-team comeback. And all the while, the scrutiny and pressure on him will increase rather than decrease.
Even if one only considers football, Greenwood’s comeback is no panacea for United’s lack of striker options, and no one should be under any illusions otherwise.