Gary Neville slams Manchester United’s handling of Mason Greenwood saga as ‘pretty horrible’
LONDON – Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville has slammed his former club’s handling of the situation surrounding academy product Mason Greenwood, amid frenzied speculation about the 21-year-old’s next landing spot.
United and Greenwood have mutually agreed for the forward to leave Old Trafford after he faced allegations of abuse involving a young woman, the club announced on Monday.
The 21-year-old forward has been suspended by the Premier League giants since January 2022 over the allegations after images and videos were posted online.
Prosecutors said in February they were dropping charges, including attempted rape and sexual assault, against Greenwood, after key witnesses withdrew and new evidence came to light.
On Monday, the club said that after a six-month internal investigation into his conduct, that it had been “mutually agreed that it would be most appropriate for” Greenwood “recommence his career... away from Old Trafford”.
This despite claiming their investigations revealed that “Mason did not commit the offences of which he was originally charged”.
Greenwood added: “I did not do the things I was accused of, and in February I was cleared of all charges. However, I fully accept I made mistakes in my relationship.”
Former United skipper Neville told Sky Sports: “It was clear from day one that he wouldn’t play for Manchester United again.
“The process in getting there has been pretty horrible. When you have significant situations, and difficult situations like this, it requires strong authoritative leadership... United don’t have that.
“And on an issue like domestic abuse and violence against women... there needs to be independence. It shouldn’t be that Manchester United are the judge and jury on such a significant issue.”
Greenwood was tipped for stardom at United after rising through their youth system and went on to score 35 goals in 129 senior appearances for the club.
In an open letter addressed to the club’s fans, United’s chief executive officer Richard Arnold said the club considered several outcomes, one of which was Greenwood’s reintegration into the squad, before coming to their decision.
The Athletic had previously reported that as of last Wednesday, Arnold’s plan had been to reintegrate the 21-year-old back into the squad but by Friday, a backlash to their reporting led to a rethink about the situation.
They added that Red Devils manager Erik ten Hag and football director John Murtough were “both supportive of Greenwood’s return”.
The Daily Mail reported that the Dutchman had reached out to the player, adding “there had also been work in the analysis department on how best to use Greenwood ”.
It also claimed Greenwood “was under the impression earlier this summer that he would be returning”.
With his return now ruled out, focus is increasingly trained on where next for the forward.
Reports in the British media have suggested that Turkey or Italy could be prime landing spots for the 21-year-old. Saudi top-flight side Al-Ettifaq, which is helmed by former Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard and boasts another ex-Reds captain in Jordan Henderson are reportedly also interested.
However, The Telegraph reported that United are under pressure to donate any potential proceeds to organisations fighting domestic abuse. - AFP, REUTERS