Manchester United legend Gary Neville says the media spotlight on Mason Greenwood in the past week has gone ‘too far’.
The 18-year-old made his England debut against Iceland last weekend but was sent home from the camp after he was caught inviting girls into the team’s hotel, which broke quarantine rules.
It meant Greenwood missed out on the chance to face Denmark a week later and he subsequently apologised for his actions, admitting that he was naive.
The negative attention the teenager’s been subjected to was heightened when photos emerged of him inhaling laughing gas and he was once again forced into a public apology.
While Neville says Greenwood deserved criticism for his mistake with England, he believes the subsequent spotlight doesn’t ‘help’ the teenager and reminds him of the treatment that Raheem Sterling was subjected to.
‘I feel a little uncomfortable,’ Neville said live on Sky Sports.
‘Last week, completely accepted that’s a big story. While he’s in the England hotel, it’s in the public interest. But at what point do we feel uncomfortable with things where you feel like someone is being victimised?
‘I feel like this mornings story off the back of last week, what’s that going to do this morning to help that boy, it was a step too far for me. To me, that’s not in the public interest.’
‘If you remember a couple of years ago that Raheem Sterling felt he had to speak out because he felt that he was being victimised by certain sections of the media and i’m getting to that place now. What’s that going to do to help that boy? What’s that going to do to help anybody? To me that’s not in the public interest. Some people may think it is – free press and all that.
‘We know that ultimately these stories can have significant damage on people and personally I feel a little bit uncomfortable with that one this morning.’
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men kick-off their campaign against Crystal Palace at Old Trafford and though spectators won’t be there to see Greenwood, Neville says the teenager has the full support of fans.
‘The club will absolutely rally around him, the players will rally around him, the fans…to be fair if there were 75,000 fans in the Manchester United stadium today they’d be singing his name non-stop.
‘That’s what every club do with their players, particularly one of their own, I love Mason Greenwood as a player. We know full well young lads whether their football players, whether they’re leaning about law, accountancy or if they’re plumber or electrician; they make mistakes.
‘But to have it scrutinised at a level that I believe is unhelpful is what’s happened this morning. Last week I get it, he’s playing for England and we have coronavirus issues so he needs to take a clip around the ear for that but this one this morning is a step too far for me.’