Was Alex Greenwood right to leave Manchester United?

The former Manchester United captain now represents the blue side of the city...


After captaining Manchester United’s 2018/19 Championship title win, Alex Greenwood departed before the Red Devils kicked off their inaugural WSL campaign.

The left-back was offered the chance to play for Lyon, not something a player can easily turn down. The decision to move abroad paid off, as Greenwood won four trophies in just one season, including the Champions League.

Greenwood started 11 games for the French champions but saw minutes more restricted in the UWCL, the biggest stage in women’s football.

When she made the switch to Manchester City after just one season with Lyon, Greenwood was greeted with comments of being a ‘snake’ and ‘shameless’ in her pursuit of more trophies.

Searching for More Silverware

With an FA Cup already under her belt this season, the transfer has paid off for the scouser. Having played for Everton, Liverpool, Man United and Man City, she is not shy of making a controversial move if it will better her career.

“I’m completely aware of the situation,” Greenwood said in a recent interview. “I understand why people are frustrated. But for me it’s about my ambitions and what I want to achieve and now my focus is on Manchester City and what I can achieve here. 

“I gave 100% to Manchester United and nothing can take that away from me.”

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During the summer it seemed a move to City was another step for Greenwood to improve and add more silverware to her collection for the next three seasons. City have a great project and team to challenge on all fronts for trophies and are a club many players would struggle to turn down – just look at the signings of Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle.

However, after an enthralling 2-2 Manchester derby, it’s the Red Devils who sit top of the WSL with two of their own World Cup winners within their ranks. With Casey Stoney at the helm, Man United have an organised team peppered with world-class talent, which Greenwood would’ve only enhanced.

Both Parties Have Improved

It’s clear to see how much Stoney has improved this group of players in the last three years, which raises the question: Would Greenwood have been better off staying with the red half of Manchester?

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Hindsight is a wonderful thing, especially in football. But at the time of Greenwood’s departure, Man United had never played in the WSL before. After one season in the Championship, the best side in women’s football came calling for Greenwood, how could she possibly turn that down?

There aren’t many teams who can compete with the pull factor of Lyon, but Man City are certainly one of those. The opportunity of consistent minutes in a side which puts attacking before defending is something which suits Greenwood’s style of play.

After the struggles City had last season in the full-back area, a double swoop for Greenwood and Lucy Bronze made sense and would allow the former to flourish in more familiar surroundings. Playing for three clubs in three seasons is a lot of change for any player and the opportunity to play for a side that will win trophies seems a no brainer.

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City are still a work in progress and arguably behind Man United in terms of being a well-oiled machine, with a new manager and host of new signings over the summer.

A Positive Move for Both

If you had told Greenwood that Man United would be top of the WSL after seven games and City would be fifth, she probably would’ve been in disbelief and still moved to Lyon. Nobody would’ve guessed that Stoney could attract Tobin Heath and Christen Press in just their second season in the WSL, but here we are.

Man United seem to be the ‘noisy neighbours’ ready to become a real force to domestically disrupt the traditional top three.

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It does not seem like Greenwood will be regretting leaving Man United in the summer of 2019 as the way Gareth Taylor sets City up, it suits her down to the ground.

An attacking side with players constantly in the box to gamble on crosses plays to her strengths. Greenwood is one of the best crossers of the ball in the WSL from open play and dead-ball situations.

She proved this in the derby with some exquisite balls into the box from both corners and free-kicks. This is something Man United also had through Leah Galton and Lucy Staniforth. The move worked out well for both parties when you look back on it.

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Greenwood got to play for Lyon and win the Champions League and has now joined one of the best clubs on and off the pitch in women’s football. She has additionally established herself as one of the best left-backs in the world. Man United got money for her departing, have built an all-round great squad and look ready to make a real challenge.

Neither Greenwood nor United will be looking back on the transfer with regrets. They’ve both progressed very well and achieved what they set out to when they went their separate ways in 2019.

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