Mason Greenwood and Brandon Williams have had fabulous breakthrough seasons at Man United and Kieran McKenna has offered them more advice.
Kieran McKenna insists Mason Greenwood and Brandon Williams need to keep grounded after outstanding breakthrough seasons with Manchester United.
Greenwood, 18, made his United debut in March of last year but has already scored 12 goals in his first full season and was being touted for a senior England squad call-up. Full-back Williams, 19, has been one of the unlikely success stories at United, making his debut in September and starting 19 matches – three more than Greenwood.
McKenna coached Greenwood and Williams when he was the United Under-18 coach before Jose Mourinho promoted the Northern Irishman to his first-team staff. McKenna and Michael Carrick were retained by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who has regularly praised the input of the duo throughout United’s undefeated 11-match run.
Ten academy graduates have debuted on Solskjaer’s watch and McKenna says the next challenge for Greenwood and Williams is to push for regular roles. “Those two that you have mentioned have certainly made a good impact this year,” McKenna told The Impartial Reporter. “They have played a lot of games and shown that they can operate at this level.
“The messages that we are continually giving them is that it is very, very early days in their career and they need to keep their feet on the floor and continue working hard in training, not take anything for granted and still appreciate day-to-day the privilege of the position that they are in.
“They have to keep pushing on and improving and eventually look to really establish themselves as first choice players in the team. We are lucky we have some good people around the club who have been there and seen it, both in terms of the staff and some good senior pros in the team who set a good example, and who keep on top of the young lads to make sure they keep doing everything right.
“The young players are certainly in a good place to continue that progression.”
United equalled the 11-game unbeaten streak at the start of Solskjaer’s caretaker tenure with the 5-0 drubbing of LASK Linz in the Europa League last month before domestic and European football was suspended following the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Solskjaer’s side are fifth in the Premier League, in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and all but in the last eight of the Europa League. Despite fraught periods in the autumn and at the start of the calendar year, United have inflicted three defeats on Manchester City and Chelsea, beaten Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City, and were the only league team to have denied Liverpool victory until Watford in late February
McKenna admits United’s form has been inconsistent. “There has been a massive fixture programme with the Europa League and the progressing in the cups, and we have been operating with quite a small and young squad with some big injuries to some big players. So it has been a challenge throughout the year.
“With all things considered, though, there have been a lot of positives to take from it. There have been some big performances and results against big teams and, at times when the performances have been good, there have been signs that the playing style is getting to where we want it.
“But, everyone knows there have been inconsistencies as well and some below par performances with points dropped. It has been up and down and the most important thing that everyone inside the club is aware of is that we need to stay balanced, stay working hard behind the scenes and keep pushing.
“Everyone needs to do everything they can to get the club back up to the top of the league and back competing for the top honours in England and in Europe.”