The Old Trafford giants are preparing to kick-off a gruelling European campaign at home to Astana.

Mason Greenwood in line to feature for Manchester United in Europa League

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  • 2019-09-19 00:10:11 4 months ago
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Mason Greenwood will spearhead a young Manchester United side in Thursday’s Europa League opener against Astana, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer calling the 17-year-old one of the best finishers he has ever seen.

After two years back at European football’s top table, the Old Trafford giants are preparing to kick-off a gruelling Europa League campaign at home to the perennial Kazakhstan champions.

United lifted the trophy when they last played in the competition in 2016-17, when manager Jose Mourinho’s side bulldozed their way through to the final with an experienced squad.

Manchester United v Cardiff City – Premier League – Old Trafford
Manchester United’s Mason Greenwood has been backed by manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Martin Rickett/PA)

The inclusion of Greenwood is most eye-catching, having been confirmed as a starter after four substitute appearances this season.

“He is still very young, Mason, but he’s maturing,” Manchester United manager Solskjaer said. “He’s developed so much in the last six months since I came in.

“I remember the kid who just wanted to play with mates in the Under-18s. And now he’s knocking on a door, he’s ready to play these games.

“For me, he has been in the Under-21s with England, he’s tasting it more and more. And his appetite for football must be growing.

“I just don’t want to put too much pressure on him, apart from go out there and enjoy yourself.

“Work hard, close down because when the ball lands in your feet I know you’re going to score anyway. I know you’ll make the right finish. Keeper might make a fantastic save but he’s one of the best finishers I’ve seen.

“It’s just that enjoyment, express yourself, go out at Old Trafford because there’ll be 11 Astana players living the dream tomorrow.

“It must be one of the biggest games of their careers for some of these players, but I want it to be a memorable one for our players as well and Mason is one of them.”

Manchester United Training Session and Press Conference
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to give youth a chance (Martin Rickett/PA)

Solskjaer intends to change tack as his side embark on their Europa League journey as the manager focuses on the youth at his disposal.

“It’s a process and for these, we trust them,” the United boss said.

“It’s for them to grow as players but also human beings – that responsibility of being robust enough to go out at Old Trafford.

“It’s not just about enjoying yourself because you’ve got to get results.

“And if you don’t throw them in you don’t know what you’ve got so, for me, I don’t see this as any other way of doing this because I’ve always done this wherever I’ve been.

Axel Tuanzebe will face Astana
Axel Tuanzebe will face Astana (Martin Rickett/PA)

“I’ve not been too many places but that’s my belief as a coach that you have to give them a chance, an opportunity.

“Especially forward players. They’ll win you games. Defenders it’s a shift, find a way to win a game and keep them out.”

Solskjaer confirmed academy graduate Axel Tuanzebe, 21, will be in the line-up against Astana, 28 months since last starting a match for United at Old Trafford.

A knock sees Daniel James join Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Luke Shaw on the sidelines, with Fred coming into midfield and back-up goalkeeper Sergio Romero getting the nod ahead of David De Gea.

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Mason Greenwood in line to feature for Manchester United in Europa League

Eintracht boss Adi Hutter: 'We have the solutions to beat Arsenal'

Eintracht Frankfurt head coach Adi Hutter insists his side cannot read too much into Arsenal's second-half capitulation at Watford on Sunday.

The Gunners were held to a 2-2 draw at Vicarage Road after squandering a two-goal half-time lead as they conceded 31 shots during the contest.

They now travel to Germany to face Frankfurt as the two sides meet in their Europa League Group F clash at the Commerzbank Arena.

Frankfurt, who lost on penalties to Chelsea in the semi-final of last year's competition before the Blues went on to beat Arsenal in the final, will be keen to show they can still compete despite a summer of change.

Attacking trio Luka Jovic, Sebastien Haller and Ante Rebic accounted for 56 of the 90 goals scored by the club last season but all were sold during the summer.

But Hutter believes Frankfurt can continue to build on where they left off, even if he does not expect Arsenal to be as poor as they were at the weekend.

"I saw the game against Watford," he told reporters at his pre-match press conference.

"They were lucky to have not lost after a 2-0 lead. Nevertheless, I would not tie everything to it. They try to play football from the back.

"Their philosophy is clearly recognisable and I assume that they will perform accordingly tomorrow.

"On the other hand, we need a clear plan and we have both the solutions and the resources."

Hutter also conceded that anticipation has grown following an unexpected run to the last four of the Europa League but believes everyone at the club remains grounded.

"Certainly the expectations have increased," he added.

"The past season was exceptional with the semi-final and a total of 14 games. The bar is high, but we remain modest and still want to get as far as possible.

"Because of our achievements and the fact that we almost reached the final we are perceived differently."

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Scholes blasts Man Utd for ‘mistake’ in failing to sign a replacement for Lukaku

PAUL SCHOLES believes Manchester United made a mistake in failing to sign a replacement striker for the departed Romelu Lukaku.

The Belgian left Old Trafford for Inter Milan in the summer leaving Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial to shoulder the goal-scoring burden for the Red Devils.

 Paul Scholes believes Manchester United have not replaced Romelu Lukaku 
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But both have already faced criticisms that they are natural strikers in the mould of Lukaku, 26, and are better suited to playing out wide.

And Martial's recent injury has left Ole Gunnar Solksjaer little option but to promote youngster Mason Greenwood to the first-team act as cover.

This has left United legend Scholes worried about his former club's lack of depth upfront, with moves for Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala falling through during the summer window.

He told talkSPORT: “That’s the one thing that disappoints me.

“He (Solskjaer) obviously knew they were going to sell Lukaku at some point, but not to have a centre-forward lined up seems like a mistake to me.

“Whether they did, whether it dragged on too long from the club’s point of view, I don’t know.

“They’re going into a season without a centre-forward when it’s a club that is known for its attacking style and had probably four centre-forwards in its heyday.

“So to go in there with Rashford and Martial, who you’re not quite sure if they’re left-wingers or centre-forwards, we don’t know. But I’m sure it’ll get sorted.”

Solskjaer has already confirmed that 17-year-old Greenwood will make his second senior start during the club's Europa League opener against Astana on Thursday.

The teenager has come on in each of United’s opening five games this season having impressed in pre-season.

Solskjaer meanwhile is thought to be eyeing a move for Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson as part of their new transfer strategy to recruit British players.

Mason Greenwood set for second senior Man Utd start in Europa League against Astana as Solskjaer looks to bed more youngsters
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