Former Manchester United star Nicky Butt has surprisingly revealed that Jose Mourinho asked him about Mason Greenwood when the forward was still only 15 years of age.
The Portuguese tactician has long been criticised for failing to promote young players and opting instead for big-name and big-money signings, but it seems that might be a bit of an unfair reputation.
Butt spent time working in Man Utd’s academy, and he insists that Mourinho spoke to him regularly about players who could come up into the first-team.
Speaking to The Athletic, Butt says Mourinho already had his eye on Greenwood when he was just 15 years old, asking if he could come and train with the senior side.
In the end, Butt recommended Scott McTominay as someone who was ready at the time, and the Scotland international has since become a key player at Old Trafford.
“I was his academy manager so I wondered what it would be like,” Butt said of Mourinho. “The reality was that he spoke to me every single morning at breakfast. He asked me about young players, he was approachable, he was helpful. He was single-minded and selfish – and whether you like it or not, that’s what the best managers are.
“He would ask me which players I wanted to move up. He asked, ‘Who is this kid Greenwood?’ when Mason was 15. ‘Bring him to train with us’, and I said, ‘We can’t, because he’s at school and there are rules and regulations.’
“I pushed Scott McTominay and explained that he was a good kid who he’d like; one who was aggressive, can run and pass. Jose had him training and Scott never looked back.”
Greenwood also ended up getting into the first-team later on, and has shown his immense quality under current manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
It would have been interesting, however, to see how these players might have got on if they’d continued to have the chance to play under Mourinho.