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Don’t go, Danny

Days after Danny Welbeck was first linked with a move away from Manchester United, David Moyes was sacked. Coincidence? I think not.

Getting embarrassed by our rivals, failing to qualify for the Champions League, employing dire football, showing little to no tactical nous and dithering over transfer targets might be the popular understanding for why Moyes lost his job, but it doesn’t take a genius to work out that upsetting our Danny meant the former Everton boss had taken it one step too far. Given a choice between Danny and Dave, the Glazers didn’t have a moment’s hesitation, although had to wait for the defeat at Goodison Park so that the media couldn’t criticise the club for being petty. The press just wouldn’t understand.

Our Danny from Longsight, who grew up supporting United, playing football on the street with Wes Brown, somehow manages to divide United fans.

Welbeck was 8-years-old when we won the European Cup in 1999, 15 years ago yesterday. “I was in the front room watching with my family,” he said. “The celebrations were mental. I think the whole street went wild!”

I wonder how many players at City or Chelsea hadn’t even heard of the club that pays their wages when they were 8, yet here was our Danny watching us win the European Cup on the telly with his family in Manchester, going mental. How could anyone not want a player like that in their squad?

Ok, fine, so Moyes didn’t lose his job for making Welbeck unhappy, but his inability to recognise how important it is to have players like Danny at the club certainly should have gone as a mark against him.

“We had a word with him about a month ago and said he needs to be the last off the training field,” Moyes said in December. “Wayne Rooney is out there practicing his free-kicks, his finishing and shooting from tight angles every day. Danny needs to be out there, even if it’s 15 minutes at the end. The young boys here are educated to keep improving and practicing. Sometimes, without knowing, you can slip away from it.”

It was surprising to hear that sort of assessment of Welbeck. The suggestion was he wasn’t trying as hard as he should be and that his performances were suffering because of it.

“I was pretty surprised, to be honest,” Welbeck said this week, when asked about Moyes’ comments. “I’ve grown up at Manchester United and been professional all through my career and I always do extra work. It’s born and bred in me to do extra work after training. He came out with that statement but, before then, I had been doing extra training. Maybe he just didn’t see it.”

In less than four weeks over the Christmas period, Welbeck played in six league games as a striker, filling in for the injured Robin van Persie. He scored six goals. Last month, stats were published showing the strike rate of players in the league, not including penalties. Three players stood out, and it was no surprise all three of them played for teams competing for the title. When looking at how many goals they had scored per 90 minutes, Sergio Aguero had 1.06, Luis Suarez had 1, and Daniel Sturridge had 0.87. The fourth most efficient striker was Welbeck, with 0.64 goals per 90 minutes.

But for much of the season, Welbeck was played out of position, just as he had the season before for Sir Alex Ferguson, and when he was used up front, he wasn’t given a regular run there.

There’s no denying that Welbeck’s development has been hampered by the fact he has stuck it out playing for United, all the while falling behind other strikers in pecking order. When those players were his age they were given the opportunity to play in their preferred position week in week out, whilst Welbeck has sacrificed that vital experience just so he could wear our shirt.

There has to reach a point though where enough is enough. We have a striker on our hands who, when played regularly up front, scores a lot of goals. We have a striker who, even when played out of position for large chunks of the season, still manages one of the best strike rates in the league. When you consider he has achieved that whilst playing for the best 7th best performing team in the country, it really is something that should impress people.

It doesn’t though. Because for every fantastic (and wrongly disallowed) goal he may score, like the one against Bayern Munich at Old Trafford, there’s a shocking lack of judgement, like that easily saveable effort against Manuel Neuer when playing Bayern Munich at Old Trafford. Whether your glass is half full or empty will determine your opinion of Welbeck. But if you want a player with better judgement, who makes the right decision with his final touch, you need to put him in those situations on a regular basis. Of course, a lot of what makes a top quality striker is instinct, but you don’t become world class without the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them.

For me, I see a young player, with loads of potential, who could do a job for United if regularly played up front. A young player who loves the club. A young player who, when watching from the bench, sees a player who is occupying his position in the team score a wonder goal, and goes as bonkers as the United fans in the away end.

But how much longer can we expect him to stay at United when he isn’t being allowed to become the player he knows he is capable of becoming? Why should he have to play on the left wing when he knows he can be a decent centre forward elsewhere?

“You want to play in a certain position and you’re not getting the opportunity to do that,” he said this week. “It’s the same for everyone else when they are being played out of position and they don’t really like it. It depends what formation we are playing. On the left of a four-man midfield there are a lot more defensive duties so you can’t find the time to keep attacking. But if you’re on the left of a 4-3-3, I find that position really good. I can play in any formation but, if I play on the left, I’d rather play there if there are three in midfield.”

Louis van Gaal is famed for giving the young players at his team’s a chance and I would love to see Welbeck given some serious playing time as a striker next season. I hope he can just give it one more year to see if the new manager sees something in him. Then, fine, if he isn’t being played where he wants to we should wish him all the best at his next club, if he wants to move on.

But time is against us. Asked directly this week whether he could clarify that he still wanted to leave, he replied: “I’d rather not answer that question.” Like a dagger to heart. Please don’t go, Danny.


About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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69 Comments

  1. Kai Yondaime says:

    im encouraged to see that aside from one or two, most of the people here are united on the fact that welbeck is overhyped english “talent”…. the notion that we should make rooney and rvp sit aside, in order to accomodate a player who hasnt scored 20 goals in the past 2 seasons combined, who has a goal to game ration of 5 games per goal in his overall career (fun fact… that makes less than 8 goals a season), and who is shockingly bad in the final third, has no composure, has a horrible touch in close quarters, i can go on and on….. if welbeck wants to leave, i’d lend him my car…. this article is utterly dreadful…. when it was rooney vs Fergie (a proven player vs the best manager ever), people were claiming no player is bigger than the club/manager…. and now the same people are pandering to an overrated sock of a football player just because he grew up supporting Manchester United….

  2. Kai Yondaime says:

    @j sman

    RvP is dutch, rooney is a scouser… Welbeck is a manc… for some people, this is the most important stat of them all…. i cant, for a second, imagine people actually believe welbeck is a better player than the other 2

  3. Kris Okechukwu says:

    It provokes me when people comes out and say is goal record is poor compared to chicha RVP and rooney. As a striker or as a winger? For God sake give him the central role he wants before you can criticise his goals return.

  4. Kai Yondaime says:

    @kris

    what has he shown so far that he’d be picked ahead of RvP and rooney for the front man spot?

  5. Gary Mitrovic says:

    For all the boggling injuries, and everything that went with Van Persie’s last season, he still came in and scored a hatrick in a must win game at home to Olympiakos and scored a clinical hatrick. I could not for the life of me ever imagine Welbeck scoring a hatrick ever let alone when it really counted.

    Also when we lost that penalty shoot out to Sunderland, Welbeck was our own recognised front man taking a penalty and he well and duly skied it. I never fancied him to score that penalty just like I never fancied him to scored that one on one against Munich. He fluffs it when it really matters in front of goal.

  6. Gary Mitrovic says:

    Niggling injuries*

  7. Sparkz says:

    Who said Welbeck should be played ahead of Rooney and RVP? People are merely

    A) sympathising with the fact that he’s rarelyy played up front yet his goalscoring record is always brough up

    B) recognising that, even though he’s nowhere near Rooney or RVP, the team can function better with him. A Rooney + RVP combination won’t see us playing fast fluid football like you want. Saha was nowhere near as good as Ruud….but the team functioned a lot better due to his all round game.

  8. Gary Mitrovic says:

    Sparkz, Welbeck said he should be played ahead of them judging by his grievances about being played out wide.

  9. Sparkz says:

    @Gary – I think he just wanted more of an opportunity up there tbh. He went on a great run of goals when played there in December/Jan – but as soon as the big 2 returned he was shunted to the bench or out wide.

    That was a cop out IMO – if he’s in form then he should have been given a continued run there even when Rooney and RVP came back. It’s up to them to win their place back (which they eventually would have done)

  10. Gary Mitrovic says:

    Sparkz, he’s had more opportunities then people on here are making out. Anyone considering starting Welbeck upfront over a fit Van Persie needs their brains testing in my opinion.

    I’m not denying Welbeck is a good player, he’d be a loss, but if he really does feel he should be the main front man then he should join a less ambitious club because he’s not a clinical striker.

  11. Sparkz says:

    No I’m merely saying that when he was in form, it was silly to remove him from that position when others were on their way back from injury.

    I’m not advocating him starting over RVP and Rooney every week – but while he was on a good streak, he should have been left there. He was pretty damn clinical in December when he was played up top

    FWIW – I wouldn’t play him up front this season but I wouldn’t play 2 up top either. I’d have him wide in a 4-3-3 (a role he is well suited to and enjoys for England). I’d then have one out of Rooney/RVP as the lead striker

  12. Kris Okechukwu says:

    @Gary: Danny never demanded he should be played ahead of RVP or wayne but he said he wants to be given the chance to play centrally that he is not a winger. He even said 433 wide role is different from that of 442 because you concentrate more of scoring knowing that you don’t have much to track to cover. So why are u not seeing the point he is making. And I believe LVG will use him in 433 formation ahead of your almighty rooney

  13. Gary Mitrovic says:

    Kris, I don’t know why you’re saying “your mighty Rooney” to me? if you have ever read any of my comments on here you would know I had called for Rooney to be sold last summer and am hardly his biggest fan.

    My whole point is I have no time for players moaning about where they should and shouldn’t be played and especially be Welbeck who hardly covered himself in glory last season. He played well against Munich despite missing a glorious chance (which is common for him) but barring a flurry goals against the likes of West Ham, Norwich and Spurs over Christmas he by and largely as ineffective and as poor as everyone else.

    Welbeck needs to knuckle down and show a more detained attitude like Mata for example. Mata is a player has excelled in the number 10 role and proven his ability on the biggest stage and yet hasn’t moaned one bloody bit. Welbeck is nearly 24 and has yet to have a breakthrough season. He’s had an average career at best.

  14. j sman says:

    if anything, we have young James Wilson coming through breaking into the first team. I would be giving him a chance to prove himself. We have given Welbeck to many chances and he has bottled his chances in the final third. I think we should focus on wilson, try to get his experience and maturity right and hopefully hr can fill his potential and go onto becoming a gray striker. He shows promise and a high level of self confidence. Im excited to see what he could do.

  15. Gary Mitrovic says:

    It may seem like I’m picking on Welbeck now, but here is a stat for Opik who feels we should sell Van Persie.

    Robin Van Persie scored more goals and league goals for Manchester United in his first season than Welbeck has managed in 6 seasons playing for Suderland and United. That is quite a shocking statistic for a Manchester United striker.

  16. dannysoya LOVES USAIN BOLT says:

    This isn’t even worth arguing. LOL. Welbeck’s not better than Rooney or Van Persie. Opik is craving attention and we keep giving it to him.

  17. iamMatty says:

    Typical british mentality, no patience, no vision etc.
    Same thing they kept on moaning about thierry henry when he was about the same age.
    Yo the chelsea fans kept on dropping the same bullshit about sturridge(who was even considered less of a goal threat than welbz) as recent as 2years ago. Sturridge moves on to a manager who trusts him with a more central role and doesn’t just shunt him to the wings cos he’s fast and got defensive awareness.
    In a country like germany, welbz would already be starting ahead of rooney.
    When welbz has been played in a central role he’s shown a lot of promise and has continued to outperform all the other england strikers for the 3lions.
    Am very hopeful a technically astitute manager like LVG will give him the chances he needs.
    And cant you all admit that the team plays better with welbz than with a rooney?
    I’d rather the team win without welbz scoring, than for us to lose and cheer rooney’s customary consolation freekicks and penalties.

  18. Neil Moore says:

    Hernandez for me not in same league as Danny. Danny is immense in the big games. Hernandez I do like, a great lad but I find him frustrating and at times offers absolutely fuck all. Always offside. Seems to be foreign fans who don’t rate Danny. Our best player against Madrid last season. For his limited games he’s actually scored a few this season. He has pace, stretches teams, great work ethic, beats men, power just needs composure. I’d be gutted to see him leave.

  19. Sparkz says:

    Last couple of comments almost spot on IMO

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