Mason Greenwood must “get his head right” to realise his full potential as a Manchester United superstar.
The warning comes from United legend Andrew Cole who came through his own difficulties at the start of his career to become a Premier League legend.
United teenager Greenwood, 19, is going through a difficult spell in his fledgling career after being axed from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad to face Everton after a poor training session on the eve of the game.
That follows United warning Greenwood over his attitude just weeks after he was sent home from Iceland in disgrace along with England team mate Phil Foden after the pair broke coronavirus protocols by being caught with girls in their hotel.
Cole believes that Greenwood has the “freakish” ability to reach the very top in English football but now must be judged on his game rather than his mistakes and urged people to leave him alone.
United’s Treble winning hero Cole said: “He’s a star in the making. If he gets his head right then he’s definitely a star in the making. 100 per cent.
“I’m hoping he will come through this. What’s really upset me through this situation is I’m not sure why everyone keeps hounding him the way they do.
“He’s a baby. If you don’t make mistakes when you’re a baby, when do you make your mistakes? In your 50s? He’s a boy and he’s made mistakes, he’s held his hands up and let him go out there and play his football.
“Now judge him on his football because if we’re judging him as an 18 year old boy against what the average 18 year old gets up to then we’ll see what they all get up to.
“Judge him on his ability, he’s made a mistake and apologised and now please just let him play his football now. They’ve left Foden alone, but let’s continue to hammer Greenwood. It’s just not right.
“He’s got so much to his game, he can go both sides, he can score goals and do everything. I’m sure that he can come through this.”
Cole, 49, came through his own trials and tribulations as a young player and knows from his own experiences that as soon as you reach the international stage then you are judged differently.
“Prime example: Raheem Sterling,” said Cole. “England got knocked out in the Euros and everyone blamed Raheem Sterling. It’s all about perceptions. When it came to my career, it was the same. You know nothing about me but you want to judge me. It’s still the same now.”
Cole’s autobiography Fast Forward is a fascinating read about his career from Arsenal trainee, working his way up with loan spells at Bristol City and Fulham before exploding at Newcastle and then reaching the very top at Old Trafford.
Cole is third – behind Alan Shearer and Wayne Rooney – in the list of all time Premier League goal scorers and yet was written off by former Arsenal boss George Graham as he revealed that ex-Gunners midfielder Paul Davis’s pep talks helped keep him going.
“I was told that I wouldn’t make it, I can’t do this, can’t do that. Man, I’ve swum the Channel backwards. But I don’t talk about my career, what I achieved and I don’t have memorabilia in my house. I don’t like to look back,” said Cole.
“I didn’t feel loved at Arsenal. I felt more loved by team mates than the coaches. I’d go in the old canteen at London Colney and Davo would always say to me: ‘Do you understand how good you are?’
“I’ve upset a lot of people along the way, people said I was arrogant, I wasn’t like this or wasn’t like that. But there was nothing in my contract that said I had to be otherwise.
“Of course you had to be a bit arrogant, but then when I used to speak out then people would call me too arrogant. But if I didn’t believe in me, who else would? I had to believe in myself because if I didn’t then I would stand no chance.
“But when people talk about dreams and dreams coming true, I achieved every single dream in my career now. I even ask myself now: ‘how did I do that?’”
Fast Forward: The Autobiography: The Hard Road to Football Success by Andrew Cole is published on 12 November (Hodder & Stoughton, £20)
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