Mason Greenwood and the Weight of Expectations

Mason Greenwood and the Weight of Expectations

Mason Greenwood and the Weight of Expectations

Mason Greenwood and the Weight of Expectations

All of which has, somehow, given rise to the impression that Liverpool’s season — in which, remember, it claimed a title it has waited 30 years to grasp — has been, well, a bit of a disappointment.

Some opposing fans use it as proof that, perhaps, Liverpool was fortunate to win all but one of its first 27 games. Some of Liverpool’s own fans cry out for more investment in the squad. That this team claimed the title earlier than any team in English history has, only a few weeks after it happened, been completely forgotten.

The more soaring the praise for Greenwood, though, the more likely it is that this same fate will befall him: not that he will not fulfill his talent, not that he will not have a wonderful career, but that no matter what he does, he will be judged as having failed to meet a set of expectations that have been arbitrarily imposed upon him.

That, after all, is the culture of modern soccer, where everyone is either a goat or a fraud, where — as José Mourinho (sort of) observed a few weeks ago — we hold those whose records are blank to be free of blemish, while those who have won and lost a thousand times are seen as flawed. There is a danger that, whatever Greenwood becomes, he is destined to be told he is not what he might have been.

If Greenwood scored 140 goals in his first 200 Premier League games, would that be enough? Yes, surely. But that is what Harry Kane has done, and to tell people that Greenwood might emulate Kane, such is the pitch of excitement that surrounds him at the moment, would be seen as selling him short.

What if he matched Wayne Rooney? Captain of Manchester United, captain of England, record scorer for both, winner of Premier Leagues and Champions Leagues. But then Rooney, when he finally drifted away from the elite, was told in some quarters that he had not fulfilled his talent.

In part, of course, Greenwood and all the others that will follow him have Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to blame. They have distorted our conception of what is possible, what is feasible, what is reasonable to expect.


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