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Greenwood v Haaland: Why Ole & Man Utd are far better off for THAT January snub

COMMENT: Erling Haaland and Manchester United... Every cloud n'all that. But no-one could've foreseen this. No-one could've seen Mason Greenwood explode as he has during this restart...

So where'd Greenwood be today? Where would this 18 year-old tearaway be if Manchester United had done what many of their exes are still insisting today they should have - that is, simply cave into the demands of Haaland's camp?

Well, United would have Haaland. They wouldn't have their principles. They wouldn't have Greenwood - at least the version we see today. But they would have the Norwegian and a strengthened connection with Mino Raiola.

We've discussed this before. Solskjaer was upset by Haaland's decision. Broken up. A year's planning down the drain. And it was the player's camp which angered the manager. Not Ed Woodward, the club's vice-chairman. Nor his insistence that United reject the terms demanded. That was for Borussia Dortmund. The signing-on fee. The buyout clause - and even more significantly where a large chunk of that buyout clause would go. Again, that was for the Dortmund board to rationalise.

But they have a player, do Dortmund. A player of great potential. But also one who will be passing through. A club hopper. Not one to build a team around. But one who is already thinking of his next move. And those around him, their next pay day. Raiola has found his next Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

And United? Well, they have their dignity. Oh, and this lad of 18. Homespun. One the fans can count on. Can look forward with. And can put their emotional trust in.

Some close to Haaland insist Germany was always the priority. And maybe that's true. But a mooted €25m fee for those working on the deal can be pretty persuasive. As can a healthy share of the €70m buyout clause that Dortmund agreed to include in the arrangement. Yet, some who pulled on the United shirt still insist such demands should've been met...

But there's no question: United are better off - far, far better off - allowing Dortmund to twist themselves into knots and ferry Haaland away. BVB's board know they're not in control of this. That's for Raiola and Dad, Alfie. That there's talk being raised of Real Madrid or Juventus just six months into the arrangement says everything about the circus they've signed onto.

In the meantime, Greenwood has four goals in the past three games. 18 for the season. And United fans, at least those not paid to drum up headlines, are no longer pining after Haaland and what could have been.

Instead, Solskjaer can plan. As Sir Alex Ferguson said when spotting Greenwood as a 14 year-old: "We've got one". And Solskjaer can now look forward with a player who's only thought is doing well for the club and staff who've done so much for him.

"The longer you have the players in the club environment, the more loyal they will be," declared Solskjaer, referring to Greenwood, last week. "They will trust you as coaching staff and management that we have their best interests and the club's best interests at heart.

“We just need to look after him his whole career. He's a fantastic boy, loves football and gets the result and rewards for his hard work."

Would Solskjaer be saying the same about Haaland? Talking about a "whole career? Especially with the terms he's on at Dortmund? Give us a break. By sticking to their principles. Knowing the brickbats that would come their way. United have managed to come out on top. Of course, it's more out of fault than design. No-one could've predicted the strength and conditioning Greenwood experienced during the UK's lockdown...

"For me personally, I feel like he has turned from a kid to a man in such short time and now he's understanding what this league is about," says teammate Luke Shaw. "He has grown in size, he has got stronger and he is not fragile anymore. [Before, he] could be pushed off the ball."

But beyond the fortune of Greenwood's physical development, there's no question that by not going down the Dortmund route United are today far better placed than they were in January.

Solskjaer has his young No9. One to fit seamlessly into the team and culture we're now seeing develop in front of us: "He's a humble boy, he wants to learn, he listens, he's worked hard".

It wasn't what he was planning 12 months ago. But he'll take it. Indeed, he knows he and the club far better off for what happened in January. Every cloud n'all that...

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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