Solskjaer delighted with Greenwood's development over summer
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Manchester United star Mason Greenwood would have trained with the first-team at the age of 15 had Jose Mourinho got his way, according to Nicky Butt. The 20-year-old is a vital part of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad. And he’s enjoyed a stunning rise under the Norwegian so far.
Solskjaer gave Greenwood his United debut at 17, in the famous 3-1 Champions League win over Paris Saint-Germain.
But, according to Butt, he’d have been around the first-team even more if Mourinho had got his way.
In an interview with The Athletic, he said: “An unbelievable character.
“I was his academy manager so I wondered what it would be like. The reality was that he spoke to me every single morning at breakfast. He asked me about young players, he was approachable, he was helpful.
“He was single-minded and selfish – and whether you like it or not, that’s what the best managers are.
“He would ask me which players I wanted to move up. He asked, ‘Who is this kid Greenwood?’ when Mason was 15. ‘Bring him to train with us’, and I said, ‘We can’t, because he’s at school and there are rules and regulations.’
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“I pushed Scott McTominay and explained that he was a good kid who he’d like; one who was aggressive, can run and pass. Jose had him training and Scott never looked back.
“Jose sat with the under-19s ahead of a trip to Portugal. He told them what to expect, he said that Victor Lindelof will be the next big player.
“Jose was good and, for an elite manager with his record, he was very, very good with me.
“He walked into the room and you knew he was the boss. If he had a stern face you knew he wasn’t in the good mood but at other times he had a laugh.
“He had his own coaches who he trusted and I don’t blame him. He’d laugh and joke with them and I got on with all of them.
“It would have been easy – and very arrogant – for me to say, ‘What do these people know? This is our club. I played here, I’m a Mancunian, what do they know?’ So I didn’t.
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“My attitude was that I wanted to take a bit from all of them.”
Butt also opened up on David Moyes and Louis van Gaal, too, insisting the pair deserved respect.
“Sir Alex left all of a sudden and the dynamics started to change – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing,” he said.
“You need to learn from outside your bubble and I’d done that when I went to Newcastle as a player.
“(Ferguson’s successor) David Moyes was brilliant with me. He did things his way but I actually liked watching him work.
“David could see my passion for coaching; he gave me the under-19s team, which was a big team for me, taking the young lads into Europe. Things were different, but I learned. It’s not even about liking people or not if you can learn from them.
“I was so fortunate as a player that I’d had consistency for such a long time from a man I respected. Most players don’t get to play under the best ever.
“David left (in April 2014) and we did a few games with Giggsy (in interim charge). I was so proud to walk out onto the bench with my friends and try to lead the team.
“We knew Ryan wasn’t going to get the job, so we wanted to enjoy the experience. And there I was, sitting on the bench with a lad I’d played with from United’s under-12s.
“Louis van Gaal came in. I’ve heard what people say about him. He was totally different to anything I’d ever seen in my life in the way he managed his set-up.
“He was firm and partitions went up for meetings. At first, I was thinking, ‘This isn’t right, this is not how we do things.’ But it was no longer ‘we’ — that world had gone.
“Van Gaal respected United’s past but wanted to do things his way. His training and management was very structured.
“I really enjoyed watching how he trained with his coaches. They were good people, it was good for me to learn and I speak highly of Louis. He was approachable, he had a phenomenal CV.”
On Solskjaer, Butt feels he’s doing a good job so far.
“A long-standing friend joined the club. I thought it was great,” he said.
“He knew the club, knew the academy, knew the first team and had played for it.
“I felt like United were back when he came back. It wasn’t like Jose or Louis weren’t great, but they took time to know the club before they were off and running.
“I was the first person Ole saw when he came into the dressing room as a player. I was the first person he saw when he came in as manager.
“He liked that, I liked that. I wanted the best for the academy and, from a selfish point of view, it was a big ticked box when he came.
“Things are getting better and Ole has done a very good job. There’s a lot of love for Ole from fans, but that only takes you so far with fans.
“The biggest challenge for Ole now is to go and produce — to win a title or trophies. He’ll know that deep down, he’s a very intelligent guy.
“It’s a business that needs to win and there has been huge investment into that business so it’s calling out to win.”
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