Patient Welbeck garners praise, but not always matches

October 15, 2012 Tags: Opinion 18 comments

“I am a massive fan of Danny’s,” gushed Michael Carrick ahead of England’s World Cup fixture with Poland in Warsaw on Tuesday night. The man in question: Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck, who is fresh from scoring an international double against San Marino at Wembley last week. Welbeck, who has started six times in 10 international matches under England manager Roy Hodgson, scored a wonderfully improvised back-heel against Sweden at Euro 2012, followed by Friday night’s brace to launch an international career into the mainstream.

Indeed, the international break has offered the Longsight-born forward some welcome minutes on the pitch, with Welbeck having slipped behind £24 million Robin van Persie in United’s striking pecking order this season. Five starts, and as many from the bench, have brought WElbeck no goals for Sir Alex Ferguson’s first team, following a dozen in the previous campaign.

It leaves the striker respected by colleagues, wanted by his national manager, but partly marginalised at club level, in what had promised to be a strong second full season in Ferguson’s outfit.

“He has been terrific,” adds Carrick, who has been brought back into the international fold, and could start in Warsaw at club-mate Tom Cleverley’s expense.

“Ever since I first saw him I have expected big things of him. He has had a terrific couple of years. People were looking at him when we signed van Persie saying, ‘Where is his position, where is he going to fit in?’ But he showed he is still a major part of it and he was terrific against San Marino.

“If he keeps performing like that he is only going to get better. He can create and score goals. He can play different positions, he can play wide, he can play up top – he is a real talent. He is modest too, what you’d expect coming through the ranks at United. The manager sets standards for the young lads and Danny doesn’t get carried away and this won’t change him at all. He just gets back and starts working hard again and that is what he does best – that is one of his biggest assets.”

That work rate will be tested in the weeks ahead, with van Persie having scored seven times in nine games this season and Wayne Rooney back to full fitness. Moreover, with Ferguson having switched to a ‘wingless’ diamond midfield in recent matches, Welbeck’s chances have also been limited in wide areas for club, if not country.

Baring further injury to Rooney, who missed a month of the season with a serious gash, or van Persie, then Welbeck is likely to remain on Ferguson’s bench for the time being – at least for many of United’s most prominent matches this season.

It is a situation that leaves Welbeck’s flourishing England career somewhat incongruent, although the forward’s double last week is not guaranteed to keep the 21-year-old striker in Hodgson’s side, with Tottenham Hotspur’s Jermain Defoe available. Demotion to the bench, if it comes at all, will surelyreflect less on the United youngster’s talents than the need for experience in a testing away fixture.

Welbeck’s strikes against San Marino brings his total to four in 12 matches for England, while Defoe now has 17 in half a century of caps over close to a decade of international football. Indeed, if Defoe’s international career is now into its autumn years, with the striker having turned 30 earlier this month, then Welbeck’s is just beginning.

It is a marginal call for the often conservative Hodgson, although Welbeck’s relationship with Rooney, which flourished at club level last season, may tip the balance in favour of the Mancunian on Tuesday, especially with England’s manager looking two years hence to the World Cup in Brazil.

“I’m used to playing with Wazza up front at United,” pitched Welbeck on Monday. “I’m really relishing the chance to play with him for England. Once we get into positions in and around the box, we know different styles of combinations to play.”

The striker has also formed a strong bond with club team-mate Cleverley, who provided assists for both Welbeck’s goals at Wembley. Welbeck, like, Cleverley, has been with the United academy since childhood; both coming through into the national set-up during Hodgson’s reign.

“We have known each other for many years now,” said Cleverley.

“I’ve been there since I was 11. He’s been there since he was nine. So we’ve built up a relationship over the years, on and off the pitch. I feel comfortable playing with him and he’s a good lad as well. His movement, his touch, finishing, pace and power are top class. He’s got everything.”

The lavish praise is far removed from Welbeck’s early years with United; a gangling kid, often deployed on the wing, unsure of movement or first touch. And Welbeck will need to demonstrate that his physical attributes are matched by those of a technical nature, especially in front of goal, if the striker is to further flourish for club and country.

After all, criticism of the forward’s strike-rate is prominent – four in 12 for England is mirrored by 17 in 73 at club level for United.

Neither statistic can, for example, match van Persie’s strike rate for United this season, nor at Arsenal in the campaign just concluded, although it is instructive that the Dutchman struck just 21 times in all competitions for the norther Londoners in his first two full seasons.

In that there remains a positive role model for the younger man, even if Ferguson is loath to proffer Welbeck more minutes while van Persie and Rooney remain fit. And if games at Old Trafford are rare it is Welbeck’s patience, and perhaps his international credentials, that will come under the microscope for the time being.

18 comments

uncleknobheadforfucksake - October 15, 2012 Reply

when he first came on the scene he tried loads of xfactory stuff, 30 yard goal against stoke, henry type curler goal against derby, rooney type lob goal for preston, seemed like a right cocky cunt who knew he was good, taggart had a go at him for it an now he never tries that stuff except the odd backheel, he needs to do more of that and less hernandezy stuff

Alex - October 15, 2012 Reply

I just feel he is very inconsistent in terms of finishing, and I feel like it does hinder his chances somewhat. He’ll score a cheeky little chip in one game, and in the next will do a very weak, lazy finish. It’s pretty frustrating especially when you know he can do a lot better.

Spider - October 15, 2012 Reply

His goalscoring rate just isn’t good enough. Still a fantastic prospect but he can’t complain when van Persie or Rooney are preferred for that reason. Hernandez clearly has an inferior all-round game but his goals/minutes ratio, even last season, was great. If he gets it right though, and an ambitious slightly over the top comparison would be a young Henry, who became prolific in his mid-20s, he could become world-class.

Allan - October 16, 2012 Reply

In my honest opinion, the fact that Welbeck is a mancunian, who came through our Youth Academy, makes him get away with a real lot of things. His finishing is really poor, and don’t tell me about backheels, I’m talking about standing in front of the box and putting the ball in the net. Phisically, although he has long legs, he can’t handle with most of the strong defenders of the league, which means we really can’t count on him in the big matches.
As I said, fans (especially mancs, naturally), team mates and maybe even Fergie tend to overlook those things and give him so many chances. Honestly, I’m tired to see him wasting so many good chances to score. For me he’s an ordinary player, who’s capable of showing some good movements sometimes, but most of the times it’s more likely he will waste soma good opportunities.
Cheers.

Anantax - October 16, 2012 Reply

He is young and only starting his 2nd full season in EPL. Give him another year before we fully decide. Right now he’s a good prospect, but not yet finished product…

Allan - October 16, 2012 Reply

At first he needs to improve a lot of qualities in his game, and then he will have that needed time. We can’t weak our attacking force in order to give him time. The lad needs to show he has the right quality to be a Manchester United striker. And that unfortunately I still have not seen.

Coach Herbie - October 16, 2012 Reply

If we buy Lewandowski, Wellbeck or Hernandez will be sold.
SAF is keen on buying this striker. I have been watching this closely. Will see what happens down the road.

Mongoletsi - October 16, 2012 Reply

You heard it here first folks! Thanks Herbie!

Coach Herbie - October 16, 2012 Reply

I can see the logic in SAF interest in Lewandowski. He scored 30 goals last season and with Van Persie and Lewandowski up front and either Rooney or Kagawa playing behind these two strikers, we’ve got a hell of a strike force. And again, if Van Persie picks up an injury, with Lewandowski there, our attack would be still strong. But if Van Persie picks up an injury tomorrow, that means Rooney and Wellbeck up front or Hernandez. Hernandez and Wellbeck WILL NOT score 30 goals this season, they don’t have the quality and Rooney is no good playing as a lone striker. I see also that SAF is looking for a backup replacement for Vidic. We may see some surprises in the January transfer window.

madmax - October 16, 2012 Reply

Wellbeck looks amazing at times but the most frustrating thing is he often seems to lose his footing just when he is about to shoot. He has show enough promise to be excited about. Looks proper x-factory.

Andrew - October 16, 2012 Reply

“Coach” Herbie? Now I know for certain you are a wind-up merchant of the highest order. Thanks for making me laugh. I wanted to believe you were real.

marlon - October 16, 2012 Reply

Welbeck is a very complete player for his age. The finishing will come. Injuries/tinkering/LW should get him 35+ games this season. At the very least, he’ll get the opportunity to fulfil his potential.

Denton Davey - October 16, 2012 Reply

Marion @ 4:15: “The finishing will come.”

Maybe. Maybe not. But he’s still a valuable player because of his other attributes.

I do agree that he’ll get the chance to fulfill his potential at UTD. SAF is his #1 fan.

Clive - October 16, 2012 Reply

I’ll be shocked if Cleverley is dropped for Welbeck…

Denton Davey - October 17, 2012 Reply

Chicharito scored again last night for Mexico. He’s just turned 24 and is within four goals of Hugo Sanchez for the all-time goal-scoring title.

It’s a pity that he’s not “good enough” because all he does is score goals.

Clive - October 17, 2012 Reply

Don’t worry Chicharito will get his chance – assuming RVP picks up a few injuries – he deserves a run in the team. PS I was right about Hodgeson not dropping Cleverley – he’s not stupid!

uncleknobheadforfucksake - October 17, 2012 Reply

why does hernandez deserve a chance ffs

hes useless without sitters and he fluffs all them anyway

Clive - October 18, 2012 Reply

His first season tells me he deserves the chance – and the fact that he is an out and out striker which to me makes him the best replacment if RVP isn’t playing – he will come good but only if given games…

Add your comment