Gary Neville has questioned sections of the English media following the release of images showing Mason Greenwood inhaling the legal-high, nitrous oxide.
The Sun’s ‘Exclusive’ – which we purposely won’t link to – showed the Manchester United forward inhaling what is often described as ‘Hippy Crack’ with a female friend, the report claiming that the incident took place ‘a few weeks ago’ in a Manchester apartment.
It comes just days after the striker last hit the headlines for breaking COVID-19 protocols, Greenwood – along with Man City’s Phil Foden – having been found to have invited two Icelandic women to a hotel while on England duty.
While Greenwood was strongly criticised for his actions which saw him removed from the national squad for the Three Lion’s bore draw with Denmark, Gary Neville admits that he is ‘uncomfortable’ with the latest coverage of Greenwood’s indiscretions, saying he feels like the 18-year-old is being ‘victimised’ by sections of the media, likening it to the barrage of negative headlines that Raheem Sterling has suffered down the years.
“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.”
For his part, Greenwood released an apology for his ‘poor judgement’ and vowed to ‘repay the faith’ he has been shown by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his coaches following his breakthrough campaign at Old Trafford.
“I have now been made aware of the health risks associated with this practice and accept that even trying it, as shown in these historical pictures, was poor judgement on may part,” Greenwood said in a statement released via the Telegraph.
“I strongly urge others not to follow my example. Although I am only 18, I fully realise that I have privileges and responsibilities, but this week I have also learned that I will be judged to a higher standard because of my career as a footballer and I must respect that in future.
“I will learn from these lessons and I am determined to repay the faith shown in me by my manager and coaches.”
As you’ll notice Greenwood describes the pictures as ‘historical’ and he certainly does look a lot younger in the images than he does right now. In fact, a cynic might say The Sun’s attempt to suggest the pictures are from a ‘few weeks ago’ is pure speculation and is just their latest hatchet job on a young footballer.