Manchester United have found a solution for Mason Greenwood’s role – Samuel Luckhurst

Greenwood’s variety

The striking aspect about United’s virtuoso opening goal was just how deep Mason Greenwood withdrew to play the pass through the defensive line for Facundo Pellistri. He did it again 10 minutes later for Daniel James.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said Greenwood is ‘a few years’ away from establishing himself at centre forward and Greenwood was forlorn there at Derby last week. In London, he finessed the role by avoiding the centre halves and picking out runners.

Greenwood’s role at United has seldom allowed him to showcase his vision, although his assist for Edinson Cavani at Tottenham was proof he has it in his locker.

Dropping off and encouraging teammates to run on was an innovative use of a centre forward not quite ready to play as a centre forward in the classic sense.

Learning curve for Mengi

At the time of writing, the 19-year-old Teden Mengi is the second most senior centre-back available to United and he has made just one substitute appearance for the club.

Mengi was oblivious to Charlie Austin for QPR’s equaliser and, however disappointed he must still be at his defending, it is an invaluable learning curve and part of the process for youngsters. Mengi’s reading of the game was impressive before the goal glut in the second-half and he will now have to focus on dominating duels.

James struggles

Solskjaer confirmed prior to kick-off Daniel James was only due to have 45 minutes and at least that meant his toiling did not continue beyond half-time.

Anyone not at QPR would have guessed it was James’ first pre-season start. Despite the odd daring dash, his end product was consistently poor and that has been a regular outcome from James.

United have a myriad of wingers and Solskjaer has already suggested Facundo Pellistri will head out on loan. James was wanted by Leeds last year and no one can say with absolute certainty he will be in the United squad beyond August, although figures behind the scenes insist he is in the attacking plans.

Ruthlessness overdue

It was just as well United announced Solskjaer’s new contract on Saturday morning, with any outcry to the announcement softened by the Jadon Sancho news at Friday lunchtime. That was in jeopardy when QPR beat Lee Grant for the third time in seven minutes just after half-time to make it 4-1.

United went 1-0 up at QPR
United went 1-0 up at QPR

As galling as it will have been to hear QPR fans crow, ‘Can we play you every week?’ any right-minded supporter will have been mindful of the lack of seniority in the United side. All the scoreline reinforced was the majority of the younger players need loans and the fringer players need shipping out.

Urging Jesse Lingard to show off his celebration is not going to endear Andreas Pereira to United fans wondering why he is still at the club almost seven years on from his debut. An injury to Alex Telles should not scupper a much-needed loan for Brandon Williams, either.

Elanga excels

Anthony Elanga is an impressively resilient forward for a 19-year-old. Just like on his second start at Wolves, he squandered presentable opportunities before scoring clinically.

United have one of the most enviable attacks in Europe but a decision is yet to be made on Sweden youth international Elanga.

“It would be easy to say the boy should go on loan but he’s doing so well,” Solskjsaer said. “He’s electric, his pace, his skill, he’s not afraid of anything, he’s got the courage and bravery of a Man United player.

“Today he created chances for others and for himself, he scored a goal with his most difficult opportunity, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s going to be staying here.

“It depends, of course, we know it’s important for him to develop and get game-time but he’s one of them we’ve not really decided. Because if he keeps on like he is I might want to keep him.”

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