Erik Ten Hag Faced with Decision on Mason Greenwood After Charges Dropped

ERIK TEN HAG felt he had rid himself of the last distraction in his camp when the club cancelled Cristiano Ronaldo’s contract during the World Cup.

The Manchester United boss had grown tired of the Ronaldo question in every press conference and was relieved when it was all over.

Man United are conducting its own investigation into the allegations made against Mason GreenwoodCredit: AFP

Erik Ten Hag previously praised the player’s performance on the pitchCredit: Getty

At lunchtime today at their Carrington training ground, the afterglow of booking a Carabao Cup Final date will have faded.

Ten Hag’s run of 12 wins and a draw from the last 14 will be shunted to the sidelines ahead of Saturday’s game against Crystal Palace.

The big question now is what is Ten Hag – who turned 53 today – and United are going to do about Mason Greenwood after charges of attempted rape, controlling and coercive behaviour and assault occasioning actual bodily harm were dropped?

It is a problem that will persist as long as Greenwood remains in the club’s employment, particularly given what Ten Hag said after being appointed when the player was still on bail.

At his unveiling last May he said: “Let’s wait for the judgment.

“If he’s proven innocent he would get a place in my team, he’s an exceptional talent who can play on the left wing, right-wing, centre forward, and false nine.”

Indeed he is, but it is all a lot more complicated than that, with the implications going far beyond where he might fit into a 4-2-3-1.

For over a year, Greenwood will have been hoping the police investigation and subsequent charges – which have been dropped – would all go away and he could pick up where he left off.

He was the latest United wonderkid with the potential to be the next Wayne Rooney.

Have no doubt about it, this two-footed star was that good. He had the world at his feet.

Now it is about him finding his feet again in a world that is very different to the one he left.

The skills that graced the football field are no longer what comes to mind when his name is mentioned after those images and that tape came into the public domain.

Despite no further action being taken and no stain on his character, this will follow him around.

United will have taken note of this and everything else surrounding the case as they scrambled to sit down with lawyers today after being caught cold themselves by the announcement.

What they have to juggle is whether a worldwide sporting brand as big as theirs can welcome the 21-year-old back into the fold.

They have kept paying him and he has two-and-a-half years left on a contract that has the option of a further year on it.

If anything it will have to be some pay-off if they want him to take his talents elsewhere, if there is an elsewhere.

As officially still registered as an Under-21 player, Greenwood is eligible to play for United even if he is not officially on the squad list for the rest of the season.

He can claim that he has every right to return to Carrington and resume training – despite United ordering him to stay away until they have completed their own internal investigation.

Of course, he would be nowhere near match fit having spent so long on the sidelines, even if he has stuck to his own regime to keep himself in shape.

That, however, is the least of the concerns.

How will his teammates, and the rest of the staff at the club react if he returns?

And what about the Red Devils’ women’s side?

Outside of the club, social media was hardly welcoming him back to the sport with open arms today.

Can he mentally recover from it all or cope with what is to come?

If he does play again chants will follow him wherever he goes.

Young players are often so good because they play with abandon, there is nothing else to think about in their lives except football, not for Greenwood now.

All of this is not making a judgement, this is just how it is.

As a club, United have so much to think about which is why their short statement today was effectively buying them time.

From a purely financial point of view, they have to take in the reaction of their sponsors.

Nike and EA Sports were quick to distance themselves from Greenwood when this all blew up.

It seems a long time ago now that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was building his bright new future on a vibrant young frontline of Greenwood, Jadon Sancho, and Marcus Rashford at the start of the 2021-22 season.

Greenwood scored in each of the opening three games.

After his goal in the first game, a 5-1 win over Leeds, Solskjaer was effervescent in his praise.

But now the only question is whether he can ever play for United again?

The charges against the 21-year-old have been droppedCredit: PA

How will the Red Devil’s boss navigate his Greenwood dilemma?Credit: Getty


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