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Let's all laugh at Man Utd: Cool Hand Luke


Debbie Downer


One day, the mods will have sense and know that I'm not a debbie downer.

One day they might read this thread and the recent posts.


Rice Rice Baby 🎼🎵
During the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Manchester United had a handful of young players who sometimes struggled to adhere to lockdown restrictions. Mason Greenwood was among them.

Greenwood was seen revving his Mercedes-Benz around Altrincham, south west of Manchester, when regulations stipulated people should stay inside. He also held parties at a rented Airbnb address in Salford despite a ban on gatherings.

The police were aware but rather than take any formal action, officers visited United’s Carrington base to request the club take closer control of their bright young talent. That was easier said than done, thought the staff, who had heard the story of Greenwood sneaking out of his house through a bedroom window to evade his parents on one occasion.

United had long been aware Greenwood was a special case. A footballer capable of rare feats on the pitch, he also required particular attention off it.

“Most athletes don’t know they’re going to make it, but he falls into the category where at 10 years old he knew it was a certainty,” says someone who has worked with Greenwood, speaking on the condition of anonymity — as with all the sources in this piece — to protect relationships. “These are fewer and farther between than people think. Frank Lampard, John Terry, David Beckham had to work their socks off.

“Mason had a Rooney-esque, Gazza-esque quality. In 999 out of 1,000 cases footballers are made, but he fits the born category. It is unexplainable why he can do some of the things he does. He can just score goals from impossible situations.”

Greenwood hasn’t been scoring goals for more than a year now. His last came away to Brentford on January 19, 2022, and the results of an internal club investigation may mean he never has the opportunity to add to his tally of 35 in 129 games for United.

Greenwood was arrested 11 days after that match in west London and in October he was charged with attempted rape, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and engaging in controlling and coercive behaviour, all relating to the same woman. Last month, the Crown Prosecution Service discontinued proceedings against Greenwood, citing the withdrawal of key witnesses and new material coming to light. A CPS spokesperson said this meant there was “no longer a realistic prospect of conviction”.

But the audio and photographs that triggered the case are still out there.

As United explore whether Greenwood can return from those chilling pieces of evidence — which have not been fully explained — they might also be factoring in a career that separately presented challenges as much as great promise.

“It wasn’t an easy ride,” says another source who worked with Greenwood. “The club were protective of him in different ways. He was an asset but they also wanted to help him reach his full potential. He made immature choices, but lots of young players do that, then they grow up a bit.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the manager who gave Greenwood his United senior debut aged 17 in March 2019, shielded the young player in press conferences and dismissed reports Greenwood had twice been late for training. “He’s always on time,” Solskjaer said.

But Greenwood’s attendance at Carrington, in general, was a concern. More than once staff members had trouble establishing his exact whereabouts.

Greenwood was unavailable for the trips to Newcastle United and Paris Saint-Germain in October 2020, with Solskjaer citing a “niggle”. Behind the scenes, many people regarded his absence as unexplained.

Greenwood then missed the game away to Everton the next month without warning, having failed to turn up at the team hotel.

Kieran McLernon, an IT consultant, told The Athletic they were “big nights”. Speaking on his doorstep last year, he said: “Essentially, lots of people in and out. Because of the street we live on, it’s all professionals between the ages of 24 and 30, so we walk into the city centre and work there.

“The music wasn’t anything crazy, for me. Saying that, I know some of the neighbours complained about noise and everything that did kick off. At the time, I did notice some relatively regular partying, maybe once every couple of weeks.”

Greenwood, as a teenager, could be forgiven for wanting to blow off steam when the world had become a difficult place owing to the coronavirus. But it brought attention from the authorities.

“In the very first lockdown, he really struggled,” says the first source. “The police took a common-sense approach. They don’t want to arrest high-profile stars. When they can see someone is a borderline issue, they’ll work with you.”

The Athletic detailed concerns over Greenwood at this stage, highlighting a desire for him to get more sleep and refocus on football. This background is why United were reluctant to let him go away for England camps. Staff felt it better that Greenwood stay at Carrington where they could guide him more regularly.

Gareth Southgate did though call up Greenwood, then 18, for Nations League games against Iceland and Denmark in September 2020. Greenwood had finished the 2019-20 season in excellent form, scoring five goals in 13 games after the restart, and Southgate phoned him personally to communicate his selection.

There was some trepidation at United, however, and this was compounded when Greenwood did a press conference over Zoom with a group of England reporters. People at United regarded Greenwood as someone who would require a lot of coaching to express himself confidently and were annoyed at him being thrust into the limelight when they had carefully curated his club media. Football Association staff understood United were very protective of Greenwood, but felt him earning his first cap was a positive story worth sharing fully.

Greenwood got his England debut as a 78th-minute substitute in Reykjavik, replacing Harry Kane. He would not make the trip to Copenhagen for the next fixture though, instead sent home with Manchester City’s Phil Fodenfor inviting girls to the team hotel in a major breach of rules.

Southgate found out via England’s security personnel, who were monitoring CCTV, then the news hit the headlines.

Some senior players were infuriated because it put the match against Denmark in jeopardy. UEFA could have cancelled the game if they felt England’s COVID bubble was affected, meaning an automatic win for the Danes. England isolated Greenwood and Foden and flew them back straightaway.
Southgate did continue to consider Greenwood for selection after that point but kept being advised by United against a call-up. Greenwood was named in the provisional squad for the postponed Euro 2020 but was pulled out “in order to recover fully from an underlying injury”, according to United.
Southgate, though, understood Greenwood would only be able to come if he was guaranteed appearances — an assurance the England manager could not provide.

United were of the view that, at that stage in his career, he was better off staying at Carrington rather than attending England squad training.



Rice Rice Baby 🎼🎵
Part 2

Greenwood’s confidence had been established in his early days at United’s academy. At the age of 16, he could be brutal with his choice of words when dismissing the credentials of boys not on his level; something not uncommon among talented players in youth teams.

Someone who witnessed events, says: “He knew he was a good player and was cutting, he wasn’t shy about telling someone they were s***. When you hear that you’d think, ‘Can’t be talking like that’.”

But, then again, Greenwood levelled the same criticism at Cristiano Ronaldo when he was still at Real Madrid. “He’s dead,” Greenwood once said — implying he was finished in teenage vernacular. Staff corrected him and considered his mentality that of youthful delusion.

His trait for blunt speaking spread into his education and not all the staff at his old school, Ashton on Mersey, a specialist for United youths, remember him with affection. Greenwood at least once raised the prospect of moving to Manchester City to United staff during tense moments in training and several sources say there was a general concern at the club that he may switch sides, influencing their decision-making. But when City, who were spending millions on building their academy, made a direct approach for the United teenager, Greenwood turned them down.

United staff came down hard on Greenwood during this time. They went through the acts of petulance to explain why they were counterproductive, with apologies sought and gained from Greenwood.

Kieran McKenna, who was under-18 manager before joining the first team, put a lot of work into guiding Greenwood through the age groups. McKenna took Greenwood into his under-18 team when he was 16 and continued to give extra coaching and pastoral care at senior level. Angel Gomes, a year older than Greenwood, took on a brotherly role.

In April 2018, Greenwood was invited to join the travelling squad for the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley against Tottenham Hotspur. He was only 16 and the aim was to provide him with first-team experience, although he would not be on the bench. However, following discussions, he did not end up going to London, with United accepting Greenwood could stay in Manchester and play with his peers rather than journey south with no prospect of featuring.

In 2019, an ill-advised video in which Greenwood used graphic sexual language was posted on social media, causing acute embarrassment for the player and alarming some at United.

John Murtough, then head of football development, and Michael Farrell, then head of academy performance, had a meeting with Greenwood. Farrell is well thought of and was promoted to head of player wellbeing in February, but one former staff member believes United should also have sent an established ex-player to offer a stern word on the scrutiny and consequences that come at the club.

Andrew Greenwood, the player’s father, had his own learning curve. When his son first started playing for United aged nine, he could be very loud on the touchlines. Club staff had a quiet word and he calmed down. As the years went on, they also explained to him why they would push his son up age groups. This meant occasionally Greenwood didn’t stand out as much, to his dad’s frustration, but it was designed to stretch a gifted player and it would come to be appreciated.

Murtough, now United’s football director, developed a strong relationship with Greenwood Senior and the bond with United was emphasised when the family rejected an approach from Juventus before Greenwood signed his first professional contract. Many clubs tried to persuade Andrew about a move but, unlike other families, he never used the approaches to push for more money. He was desperate for his son to play for United.

Andrew also eschewed several offers of representation from football agencies, including one which came with the promise of a £1million ($1.2m) payment up front.

A source with an understanding of the situation says: “I do think to a degree the lack of an agency could be a problem. That is a grey area. You need a good agent, a respected one with evidence over the years of dealing with high-profile young stars. There are agencies out there well-embedded with lawyers, psychologists, welfare people, life managers. It can be the bigger companies. He and his dad have always shied away from this, which is admirable in the early stages, but once you become a megastar, it is something else you and your family are dealing with.”

A United psychologist worked with all the players at academy level. It was termed ‘ghost-coaching’, in that they would watch sessions and provide support for any boy or staff member looking for strategies. United now have two psychologists employed by the academy.

Under Solskjaer, United had what they considered a protection and education unit around Greenwood, but some staff members felt he required specialist support as a young adult operating under extreme pressure and expected to perform for a world-famous team.

The first-team environment is different to academy level, with results the main motivator. As one source says: “There is the internal support there, but that constant 24/7 eye on the player can get lost once you become a first-team squad member.”

Specific practitioners were recommended internally, but the club stuck with in-house staff for Greenwood.

On at least one occasion when he fell below the standards expected, he was banished to train with the younger age groups for a planned period of three or four weeks. The exclusion only lasted a few days. United had sold Romelu Lukaku and let Alexis Sanchez go on loan in the summer of 2019 without signing any strikers, thus raising Greenwood’s importance to the team at just 18.

Greenwood had strong friendships with players he grew up with at the academy, but he was considered aloof by some senior professionals, who were then appalled when the recording that led to his arrest emerged in January 2022.

That audio was taken in October 2021. The next month Solskjaer was sacked. McKenna also left the club. Ralf Rangnick, now interim manager,was not close enough to the players to know what was really going on.

Despite this turbulence, Greenwood demonstrated signs of becoming more mature around Carrington, asking how people were doing when he hadn’t shown great interest in that kind of conversation before. In November 2021, he undertook extra training sessions with United’s youth players despite the first team being granted the week off due to the international break.

The release of the audio and photographs on social media in the early hours of Sunday, January 30, 2022, stunned United. Staff hurriedly tried to ascertain the facts.

That weekend, Greenwood was seen applying for a membership at Hale Golf Club, but then his life changed dramatically. He was arrested and United said he would not be eligible for selection.

Rangnick, fighting for results, suddenly lost a player who he felt was the perfect fit for his style.

Chief executive Richard Arnold sent an email to staff at 8am on Wednesday, February 2, reminding everyone the matter was with the police and not to comment while reiterating that United did not condone violence.

Greenwood appointed his own legal counsel. United ruled it would not be appropriate to assist in that regard. But club officials did maintain communication with Greenwood’s family and, knowing the developments as the months went on, began to think that no charges would be brought.

But Greenwood was charged by the CPS in October, nine months after the release of the footage and photographs on social media. The Sun newspaper had obtained a picture of him breaching his bail conditions and his lawyer was informed of a plan to publish.

Greenwood and his family voluntarily notified the police he had been in breach of his bail conditions. He was re-arrested, remanded in custody, and spent three nights in a cell in a police station. He appeared at Manchester Magistrates’ Court on Monday, October 17 with his dad Andrew and mum Melanie in attendance. United sent security personnel to assist them.

He faced three charges in court: attempted rape relating to an alleged incident on October 22, 2021; engaging in controlling and coercive behaviour, namely accessing and monitoring social media accounts that stopped and altered the way the complainant socialised; and assault occasioning actual bodily harm between December 1 and December 31, 2021. Rebecca Macaulay-Addison, prosecuting, told the court Greenwood was accused of “making threats and derogatory comments towards her (the victim), amounting to a serious effect upon her”.

The complainant is not identified in our reporting because, under UK law, she is entitled to anonymity for life. This is also why comments on this article are switched off.

The hearing was to ascertain whether Greenwood would be remanded in custody before his trial date. His defence barrister, David Toal, instructed by Greenwood’s solicitor Louise Straw, made clear to the court that Greenwood had breached his bail conditions several times and the police had been aware of that and had not acted.

The police rejected this accusation, insisting they re-arrested him as soon as they found out. Greenwood’s defence team told the court they had evidence to the contrary. “What’s the point in bail conditions if police don’t enforce them?” district judge Mark Hadfield asked.

The court was told Greenwood had surrendered his passport, was living where he should be, had answered questions in interview and provided passwords for his phones.

Judge Hadfield rejected the application for bail and Greenwood was remanded in prison. Greenwood looked aghast at his family as the decision was read out.

He stayed for two nights before his defence team made a second renewed application to Judge John Potter at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court. He overturned the decision of Judge Hadfield and granted bail with conditions, including non-contact with prosecution witnesses and residing at his home address.

On Monday, November 21, he appeared at Manchester Crown Court (Minshull Street) and was told he would have to re-appear on February 10, 2023.

But in February, the prosecution was discontinued. A CPS spokesperson said: “We have a duty to keep cases under continuous review. In this case, a combination of the withdrawal of key witnesses and new material that came to light meant there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction. In these circumstances, we are under a duty to stop the case. We have explained our decision to all parties. We would always encourage any potential victims to come forward and report to police and we will prosecute wherever our legal test is met.”

Greenwood is now an expectant father.

Whether he is seen on a pitch again is uncertain. United have rejected offers from Turkish sides as the club’s internal investigation continues.

One source believes this experience has changed Greenwood. “He would run through a brick wall to be back playing for United now,” they said.

Some at United even feel he could play for the club again. Going down that path would cause a national moral conundrum and also trigger a sporting debate. Sponsors have privately expressed concerns about a return. Some members of the women’s team would take major issue.

Greenwood’s presence is felt at United games. Newcastle fans sang a song about him at the Carabao Cup final. Several sources wondered about his resolve to combat that kind of attention.

A representative of the player said: “There’s no real substance to any of this, it being a mix of old news, speculation, half-truths and completely untrue claims. Mason is 21, he has been cleared and should be allowed the opportunity to rebuild and move forward with his young life.”

His story raises questions for United and their approach to wellbeing is being examined internally. Some people who have worked at Old Trafford also feel the club should be stronger with talented academy players and that discipline cannot be sacrificed for future stars.

There are lessons for all involved.

Blood on the Tracks

Fan of Kim K's hustle 💪
Trusted ⭐
So a guy that's never had any real form of discipline or being held accountable, from his parents, club or even the police thinks he can get away with doing anything he wants?

Colour me shocked.

Everyone's treated this rat with kid gloves by the looks of it. No wonder he's turned out the way he has.


You guys do like p**zy, right?
So a guy that's never had any real form of discipline or being held accountable, from his parents, club or even the police thinks he can get away with doing anything he wants?

Colour me shocked.

Everyone's treated this rat with kid gloves by the looks of it. No wonder he's turned out the way he has.

That article is supposed to deflect blame from the rapist. You are doing the same thing in your post.


The Premier League Fair play table has Manchester United at 17th place.

Where are the usual suspects who condemned Arsenal players ill discipline under Arteta?

Casemiro on his third red
Fernandez diabolical attitude towards match officials. When he’s not rolling around feigning injury been shot dead. Then moments later only to rises miraculously as if from the dead.

Cashford motoring ban he has more points than Chelsea.

Brendan Williams who appears to inhale nitrogen oxide holding a balloon in his car….

The media and opposing fans have all gone quiet and have myopia!🙈🙉🙊 Hypocrisy much!

We were bottom, 20th place of the fair play table table, with tiny tots mocking us while in 19th place. You can’t make this stuff up!

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Rice Rice Baby 🎼🎵

The club are understood to be split on the issue, with staff in the football department arguing he should be given a second chance, but commercial executives more wary amidst concerns over the potential damage to United's reputation.

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