Gareth Southgate has had many successes as England manager and, regardless of how they got there, it was a hugely impressive achievement to get the team to the EURO 2020 final. That being said, there's something very off about Southgate's relationship with Mason Greenwood.
After Greenwood was once again left out of Southgate's squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers, the England manager answered questions on why he has missed out again.
Gareth Southgate's relationship with Mason Greenwood is weird
It can't be denied that one of Gareth Southgate's biggest strengths has been the trust placed in younger players. Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka were both crucial parts of England's run to the EURO 2020 final, and Jordan Pickford had his international career kickstarted by Southgate's trust in him at the 2018 World Cup.
One player who hasn't quite enjoyed the same treatment has been Manchester United man Mason Greenwood.
Southgate has once again left Greenwood out of his squad, despite some impressive form from the 20-year-old so far this season. When asked about the issue this week, Southgate said that Greenwood and his family had agreed to "park" any potential England selection until 2022 at the earliest.
🗣"He and his family felt that they needed time and with a young player we've got to be very mindful but he's a player we believe has a big future here."
Gareth Southgate is constantly tracking Mason Greenwood and sees big potential in him pic.twitter.com/CcIjJY29Oq
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) November 4, 2021
Though it may appear at first that there's nothing untoward about this, it does raise some questions about Southgate's management of this particular youngster.
Greenwood is, of course, an exciting young prospect who has impressed at Man United this year, despite the newfound competition of Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho for starting places.
Greenwood has struggled for a regular place in the starting eleven for United this year, but he has still played more minutes this season than plenty of players in the England squad - and has even scored more goals this season than Harry Kane.
At the very least, he deserves another chance in an England jersey, given the spark he has brought when given the chance this year.
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) August 29, 2021
Taking Southgate for his word in the presser yesterday, can you blame Greenwood for asking not to be selected?
Greenwood has found himself out of favour with Southgate for over a year now, ever since the infamous "Iceland incident" when himself and Man City winger Phil Foden were pictured at a hotel room party during the height of lockdowns.
Foden and Greenwood were both dropped from the squad immediately and criticised - but Foden quickly made his way back into the squad.
BREAKING: Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood accused of bringing back women to their hotel room in Iceland in breach of quarantine rules. pic.twitter.com/3AVEUJRWFr
— Football Hub (@FootbalIhub) September 7, 2020
Though Southgate's care for younger players has been impressive, he has failed Mason Greenwood repeatedly. He stood by Foden and continued to pick him after the Iceland incident, but has seemingly cast Greenwood aside. That's not to say Greenwood has been in as good form as Foden, but he has surely warranted a second chance at an England callup.
As well as that, his England coaching team put Greenwood front and centre at a press conference at the height of the media frenzy around Harry Maguire's criminal case.
Putting an 18-year-old from the biggest football club in the world in front of the press on their first ever international callup, while their club captain and international teammate is on trial in a much-publicised case, is objectively a shocking call.
So, if Greenwood himself has turned down the chance to play for his country, is it really any surprise? He's received nothing in the way of public support from Southgate - until his complimentary comments this week - in a formative year where he has attempted to establish himself as a force to be reckoned with at Manchester United.
🚨⚽️ | NEW: Gareth Southgate: “He [Greenwood] recognises if he doesn’t get it right over a longer period, doesn’t nail down the situation at the club then maybe there isn’t an England career anyway.”
— Football For All (@FootballlForAll) November 4, 2021
Southgate spoke this week of Greenwood needing to focus on establishing himself at Manchester United before he can be regularly considered for an England spot.
But, it seems, as long as Gareth Southgate is in charge, Mason Greenwood will have his work cut out to make his way into the England squad.