Exclusive – As one of the finest strikers the Premier League has seen, if anyone is going to offer Mason Greenwood advice on how to manage his career, then Manchester United legend Dwight Yorke is among them.
Netting 65 goals in 152 appearances for the Red Devils, the Trinidadian striker is well versed in the art of scoring.
The 48-year-old sat down with 90min to discuss a variety of topics regarding his former side, including what sort of character Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is, where United need to improve and how he keeps in such incredible physical condition.
“I have to be honest, I couldn’t be bothered to watch United for a number of years, I kind of switched off,” Yorke confessed. “In recent times, though, since the lockdown, my love for football has come back again as seeing United do what they’re doing has filled me with more excitement.”
One of the main reasons for that heightened enthusiasm is the emergence of Greenwood, whose 15 goals for the season have catapulted him into the limelight in a breakthrough campaign. Yorke couldn’t hide his admiration for the Englishman, but offered some timely advice about how to stay grounded.
“At 18, to be in the starting lineup for Manchester United is like a dream come true,” he said. “You pinch yourself every morning. You’ve seen Marcus Rashford and Wayne Rooney make that progress and Mason Greenwood is no different.
“He needs to keep his feet on the ground and continue to do what he’s doing because at 18, what are you supposed to tell a kid? You don’t want to give him too much information, you just want to let him enjoy himself.
“We knew he was a gem but we’re surprised with the leap he’s made in such a short space of time.
“Ole is the most level-headed footballer I’ve ever come across, so he [Greenwood] has the right person and the right management. It’s up to the manager now to protect him and let him enjoy his football.”
Having touched on his former teammate, Yorke elaborated on what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can offer United, insisting that he isn’t not the confrontational type, but that he’s invested well so far and got the Red Devils playing an exciting brand of football.
“He’s never been one for confrontation, he doesn’t like that kind of stuff, unless he’s changed recently. When we were playing he was never a big personality in our dressing room, he didn’t have much say in the dressing room so to speak. He just got on with his job which he was very good at.
“He’s been given a great opportunity to be at the club, he’s in a unique position. Ultimately as a manager, he will be judged on what he’s won and what he’s done at the club. At the moment he’s seemed to have turned things around. He’s bought well in Bruno Fernandes, who has been a revelation, and he’s got everyone playing the attacking style of football.”
Heading into the summer window, movement is expected to take place at Old Trafford before the new season, and Yorke claimed his former side should be looking to bring in up to three players – including Jadon Sancho.
“I would buy possibly two or three more players,” he said. “I’d go for a centre-half alongside Harry Maguire, I think that’s important, although Victor Lindelof has done reasonably well I think. Another midfielder, if possible, behind the likes of Bruno. Although, Nemanja Matic has been great since he’s come back. So that’s a new player in itself!
“Fred initially struggled but he now looks much better, while Scott McTominay still has some development to do. You want competition among yourselves everyday. You need to get the players competing against each other. If I was Ole right now, that’s what I’d try to recreate. Bring in Jadon Sancho, young players with pace.”
One thing that is noticeable talking to Yorke is his imposing frame. Just as during his playing days, he looks as fit as ever. Confessing that working out is ‘in his DNA’, he reveals he trains every day to keep in such good shape.
He finished: “I set the benchmark for everybody when they see me. I’ve always been that way, I go to training every morning, which for me, is going to the gym. It’s in my DNA. If I don’t got to the gym in the morning I’ll go in the afternoon. I don’t get out of bed at six in the morning or anything like that, though!”