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The Month: Danny Welbeck, Real Madrid and perceptions

There are a lot of people thankful for the place the world has become; which is mostly great, because it’s nice when people are happy (except when it allows for some to write off the very serious issues: who was responsible for ‘post-racial society’, anyway?) because things are, of course, different now and not like it was before. It’s probably why today’s news never seems to stack up to whatever craziness people got up to in the past.

But that’s just how history works, or seems to work. When you’re merely living through it, few things appear as important as they are in reality. It’s difficult to imagine now, but your grandchildren’s history textbooks will be dominated by all sorts on horsemeat. (Topical! And tedious, on a lesser note.)

February is Danny Welbeck’s month – and he didn’t have to do too much else but score at the Bernabeu. The significance of the headed goal goes beyond the tie, the competition, this season – or at least, maybe. Robin van Persie could have scored that and it would have been wonderful, but what else? Same for Patrice Evra. But, for someone like Welbeck, it’s the sort of thing that media types file under ‘coming of age’; and something that could be the career-defining moment they write about a decade later. That’s not a given, but it’d be lovely if February 2013 became the month it isn’t right now.

While Welbeck will appreciate the hyperbole, the italicised clichés and the hopefullys, all of this has, at the same time, done him a disservice. He didn’t just score the crucial away goal against Real Madrid in a knockout game, but whatever people made of Manchester United’s actual performance, his overall contribution was an important one and must be mentioned as much as the goal. There was no real consensus on how good United actually were, but, in the context of the game, it sufficed – and they improved dramatically in the second-half to a point where it looked like the game was in the balance, at least from those partial eyes.

Welbeck, to go slightly off-topic, has his doubters and there are quite a few. That’s mostly fine. For those that get Welbeck, though, take solace in the idea that the opinion of professionals is typically the most important, especially those that have one on the young forward. Now, that’s not always true when there is a limit to what they can say, but there is a trend in what the likes of Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Sir Alex Ferguson, most importantly, have said about the player recently. Tom Cleverley put it best after the Madrid game: “He’s not scored as many as he did last year but we know he does other things for the team that are just as important. I don’t think anybody’s really worried about [his lack of goals].” And that’s right. Welbeck is indeed lucky that his teammates have made his general profligacy in front of goal less of a problem than it should be, but praise is also due for his ability to make his teammates play, like he had done in the first leg. See, if the players agree on this rather specific attribute of his, instead of the “oh, he’ll come good”, then Welbeck is definitely doing something right, even if more focus is required to see it.

Welbeck was not the only player to influence perceptions in the 1-1 draw; Rafael da Silva, almost certainly in United’s top three performers this season, found those that (let’s be honest) dip in and out of games just don’t know. It’s weird to think, given the amount of television coverage United get, that so many seem to be poorly informed. There are United fans that are suspicious of Rafael, or others like Michael Carrick and Jonny Evans, but perhaps what makes it acceptable is they have obviously seen enough to come to whatever opinion, no matter how perplexing. Rafael did struggle in dealing with Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil doubling up on him, accompanied by Fabio Coentrao whenever he wandered up the field, for at least 45 minutes, but then everyone would. Rafael’s February was fantastic apart from this minor blemish, his high-point a superb all-round performance against Queens Park Rangers at the end of it, with a goal for everyone to appreciate.

Some other musings: The renascent Ryan Giggs has made us all happy inside. February saw two key goals against Everton and QPR and countless records broken in the process: it’s that sort of thing that earns you a standing ovation at the Bernabeu.

United are twelve points ahead of Manchester City, in the quarter finals of the FA Cup, Phil Jones’ prospects as a future United midfielder look good, David de Gea has made friends, Carrick has a song to stay this time and Nani is making a comeback. Also, twelve (12) points, which is nice (and hopefully continues to be nice in March).

What’s been really good is that there’s been no defeat to talk about in 2013; two columns and barely any need to speak ill. Wonderful.

Madrid at Old Trafford, then. They haven’t been great away from home.

Barcelona? Oh. 1-3?


February was good, though.

Read the excellent ManUtd24 blog and follow Zac on Twitter.



  1. Bobby Charlton's combover says:

    It was a feel-good February all round.

  2. FletchTHEMAN says:

    We have a run of 4 home games and we need to continue to grind out results. We need 21 points to win the league, but must keep the mojo up as well. We want to do this in style and we have the squad to do it.

    Norwich on Saturday should not be overlooked and is very winnable. We need to go into the Real game with confidence.

    Real play Barca for the second time in 4 days on Saturday, so obviously have their own troubles.
    We will surely rest players in hopes of getting them fit for Real (van Persie), But I feel Sir Alex will play Wayne and a strong side to make us feel invincible at home.

  3. Marq says:

    One game at a time! Everyone will have a part to play, so lets do it!

  4. iced earth says:

    norwich game is so important
    i hope we got the 3 points and increase the goal difference

    smalling rio evans evra

    valencia carrick ando kagawa


    smalling cause they are very dangerous on set pices and that s the only way they could trouble us
    vida will start against madrid.he missed the 1st leg. him and evans should start

  5. lordrt says:

    The final sprint is on, United will need to remain consistent in the coming games if they really want to make it another treble. Ronaldo has already given a warning by helping RM rip apart barcelona in their own cup tie, and coming to OT will be another boost for them to try take the qualification away, so if SAF decides to play it an open game then beware of Ronaldo and co. as they have pace and want to win to save their own season as well. Meeting Chelsea in another KO round for the Cup is the tradition it seems, they took us out of the Carling Cup (or whatever its called now) and are now back facing us for the FA Cup, one which United has not lifted for what seems like ages now…

  6. Doghouse says:

    That’s for that post FletchTM, I’d wondered what the exact points tally was we needed to sit this season down. Twenty one. Seven wins. Get in.

  7. DiegoForlanDK says:

    Norwich very winnable? wasn’t the last time around. I could think of games I’d rather have saturday than Norwich. I reckon we see Lindegaard in action saturday. Maybe something like:


    Rafael – Smalling – Evans – Buttner

    Ando – Cleverley

    Nani – Roo – Giggs

  8. AlphaRS says:

    What is not a good story in February is this problem that Harnandez, Anderson, and Nani are in some sort of dressing room revolt against SAF. Talk Shite were on about it this morning.

  9. parryheid says:

    Why would we have a ropey right back in when we have the leagues top right back in top form.We already have one foot in the door p,play Smalling and we will be tossed right back out.

  10. parryheid says:

    My mistake thought it was for the Madrid game.Oops

  11. iced earth says:

    against madrid
    rafa evans vida evra

    young carrick tom nani



    nani will cause much trouble to arbeloa he is the weak link in there defence
    young will help rafa keeping ronaldo quiet

  12. FletchTHEMAN says:

    Doghouse. Cheers mate. I think it would be 22 if we want to remove the issue of goals differential. But 21 will likely do it. This would require City to win all 11 remaining, as they drop points, you can take those points off the tally we need.

    The good news. We have never tallied less than 27 points in any run of 11 games this season. So you have to count us as odds on, unless the proverbial wheels come of the bus.

  13. dasilvatwins says:

    against madrid

    —carricik-jones (cleverly in injured)

  14. FletchTHEMAN says:

    But my point is we have Norwich and its an important game because it is eminently winnable. As are all of our remaining home games. We have only lost 1 game at home in the EPL, and now would not be a time to experiment with those numbers.

    We have 6 remaining home games including a virtual 6 pointer if we beat City.
    We win them all and we are as good as done, drop points and we have to rely on our away form,

    ….which isn’t to bad either, come to think of it! ;)

  15. RJ says:

    I think Madrid will approach the game at Old Trafford the same way they just did the Barcelona game because they had similar first leg results in both (drew 1-1 at home). We’re likely to see a Madrid side desprate to cancel out the away goal as soon as possible but of course, we’re more disciplined defensively than Barcelona so it wouldn’t be an easy task for Real. The Norwich game is equally very important. Any dropped points at home & City will sense the ttile race is still open. We need to wrap things up as soon as possible & in style. I won’t mind a very very early guard of honour for us in the Manchester Derby or maybe I’m just getting carried away. Lol

  16. iced earth says:

    the epl is he top priorety
    we need to be lucky to have the treble.hope every one stay fit
    if we beat madrid we will have a great chance
    barca will be dumbed out dortmund and juve are behind us only bayern can beat us
    we will beat chelski in the cup and also having a great chance of winning the cup

  17. iced earth says:

    the epl is the top priorety
    20 20 20 20 20

  18. wayne says:

    A dressing room revolt against Sir Alex lol,that’s probably the funniest thing I’ve read.Ando and Nani leading the charge is even fucking funnier the two players who under perform more than anyone else.Herandez causing trouble makes the story even more ridiculous

  19. Marq says:

    Yea, right, a revolt when the team has a chance to create history? How much oil money did the reporter get to write such rubbish?

  20. kanchelskis says:


    Why would you even do that ‘story’ the credit of being typed? Load of utter bollocks.

  21. FletchTHEMAN says:

    Scott – Seems like there have been some updates to the blog software. From my perspective NOT all seem to work well. Got to say there are some very strange goings on.

    For some reason, I can no longer copy and paste from one part of my entry to another. Like if I type a sentence then want to move it to another part of the post. Other aspects don’t work as well either but I need time to figure out what is what.

    Maybe related: If I copy and paste from one of my already submitted comments, I seem to get a bunch of text that has embedded links to the blog. Not helpful!

    I imagine these changes are designed to further your quest for global media domination, and full credit to you for your efforts to pain the world in red tinted glasses.

    But all we really need is a simple text editor. The other stuff just makes life harder.


  22. FletchTHEMAN says:

    Oh right, and yesterday I got a post sent to moderation for who knows what. Think it said some story was horse m@nure (substitute @ for a). Do we really have to clear common english banter with the teacher?

    Steadies himself.

  23. Newton Heath Red says:

    reading that gave me a headache

  24. Sparkz says:

    Lol it’s weird how our most prolific winger since Ronaldo is apparently under performing “more than anyone else”…….but okayy….

  25. Red4ever says:

    Lol british getting english leason funny ,,,,anyway beat canneries and stay fit and healthy coz we need it against madrid

  26. roboo7 says:

    Mancini saying united been lucky this season is funny cause we get late goal! You dont stop till the game ends and thats what we do! He just pissed off cause city players cant do the same.

    Team for madrid game

    de gea

    rafael vidic rio evra

    carrick jones (cleverley if jones injured)
    Nani wazza welbeck

    Vida and rio will boss at the back ronnie will have no chance in the air nani should cause problems welbeck use his energy getting up and down the field jones same as usual if injured clevs would do the same but add that extra attacking oppsion. If not welbeck young he can help out with evra defending cause hes all over the place.

  27. wayne says:

    Sparkz it’s relative and imo both Nani and Ando could be far better players so in my eyes that’s called unperforming.I don’t see the sunshine shine out of Nani’s ass like some.Makes me fucking laugh actually Tony V is supposed to be a ‘water carrier’ compared to Nani yet last season he played 2 games less played 5 or 6 games at fullback yet had the same amount of overall points,league games go figure
    I’m not going to get into a Nani debate again just don’t rate him as high as some and feel he could be so much better

  28. Sparkz says:

    I’m not claiming the sun shines out of his backside….but whatever your opinion of him is (and it’s pretty obvious that we’ve got differing opinions lol)……….calling him under performing is laughable IMO, considering how prolific he’s been in the last 3 and a bit years.

  29. wayne says:

    He’s done barely fuck all for a full season,tailed off badly last season and started this season even worse.Listen mate I don’t like his attitude,don’t like the way he went about getting a pay raise and hated the way he showed up disinterested to start the season.I think he’s selfish,greedy and overrates himself and needs to show up every week like everyone else because he isn’t a special case.
    Maybe a players attitude and character doesn’t matter to you but there’s a reason Sir Alex has preferred Young and Tony V

  30. NBI Red Onion says:

    11 games left – 33 points minus 12 = 21 points plus a point for a points win – yup we need 22 assuming City don’t drop points.

    I can see us dropping points possibly v City, Arse, etc. I think we will drop 5 points, 10 max (2 losses, 2 draws in 11 with other cup games to play also). But I can’t see City going 11 without dropping points. 19 point out of 33 should definitely tie it up. What we want to avoid is bunch of draws, need to see games out properly to the last minute, been a bit lax with concentration at times this season but defence now seems tight and we should score enough.

  31. Sparkz says:

    Lol he’s barely played so how can you say he’s done fuck all?

    He was injured for a lot of the second half of last season and he’s been injured for a large part of this season.

    If you don’t like his attitude, or the way he’s gone about the contract talks….fair enough. That’s off the pitch. But as I said in my earlier post – to say he’s been UNDER PERFORMING is wrong. If that’s the case, then there’s not many guys at our club who have been performing!

  32. NBI Red Onion says:

    Nani Ando and Pea all speak Spanish/Portugese so yeah must be a gang and I am sure SAF is quaking. Want to leave fck off then, team bigger than you, team made you, especially in the case of Nani and Ando would struggle to get into any top team. But I don’t think story is remotely true. Do you think Rio, Giggs, Vidic would let that happen?

    I can see Nani leaving as there is clearly an issue, which is a shame but its clearly a problem, all his team mates say Ando is the laziest trainer, if he does not step up I can’t see him here next season other than as a very squad player. If Ando leaves my bet is he will sink without a trace like Park and Wes.

    Pea, if he leaves, well won’t be the first time we lost a player we wanted to keep, he will be replaced. He is not in the league of a Ronnie, Scholes or Best that can’t be replaced.

  33. NBI Red Onion says:

    I agree Nani has OFTEN underperformed – using @ waynes definition of him at his best of his ability, we have only seen that in flashes, occasionally for half a season. @ Spakz If you think this is the best he can do fair enough, I thin his brain needs to be properly engaged and he needs to learn to cross better and more consistently and his decision making is still suspect. Plus his head some times seems elsewhere. That said I love him but he is beginning to piss me off with all this contract shit, demanding a starting place.

  34. wayne says:

    No it fucking isn’t don’t blame injuries Young and Tony V have had injuries as well.He wasn’t injured towards the end of last year Young was getting picked ahead of him..He wasn’t injured to start the season and he was shit if I remember after the Everton game he was dropped out of the squad, so Stop making things up.Last time I checked a few weeks ago he’d played in 9 league games this season and had 1 goal 1 assist
    Listen mate if you think Nani is performing to his highest potential week in week out isn’t much to talk about is there

  35. roboo7 says:

    Hernandez is still learning his trade and were better to learn than at united and from wazza and rvp. Hes still young be stupid to leave rvp and wazza close to 30 hernandez welbeck take over from them. If ando can go injury free he would be a top midfielder and we saw that the start of last season with cleverley. I like nani but injury preventing him getting to his best and the same with valencia. But they are all fit for the perfect time of the season.

  36. Sparkz says:

    @NBI – You do realise that NOBODY in the country has more assists than him in the last 3 years? His crossing and decision making clearly isn’t that bad.

    People expect him to be a David Beckham style player who puts the ball on a plate for the centre forward time after time. That’s not his style of play (he’s a risk need a few of those in each squad)….and more importantly that’s not the role the MANAGER gives to him. Everybody has different jobs and his job is to provide unpredictability as well as goals and assists.

  37. Sparkz says:

    @Wayne –

    1) I never said other guys haven’t had injuries either

    2) You need to check back again . He got injured in the 2-1 win over arsenal last January (Koscielny’s tackle) and didn’t come back until mid February. He got injured again in early March and didn’t return until the 4-4 vs Everton. And this season he missed, what, 2 and a half-3 months with the hamstring injury? Like I said, others have had injuries as well but let’s not say stuff like “Nani’s done fuck all for the last year” when he’s been injured for a lot of that time.

    3) Your stats are off as well. This season he’s made 9 starts in the league (plus 4 sub appearances)………and he’s got 3 assists + 1 goal.
    Oh, and in all competitions he has 5 assists + 3 goals.

  38. wayne says:

    He got his hamstring injury Nov 7th Braga away up to that point in the season he’d been moody disinterested and fucking shit.I trust Costas with stats and he said towards the end of last year Young was getting picked over Nani in the run in

  39. parryheid says:

    Nani is a handicap and we play him versus Real at our peril but I am confident our manager wants us to go through so he wont be played flakey player at best.

  40. King Eric says:

    wayne – Ha I know mate, Ando and Nani wouldn’t last two fucking minutes if they LED a revolt. Fuck off Talksport you pathetic cunts.

  41. King Eric says:

    The VERY same Talksport and the fat dancer Goughy saying if United sold Rooney to those no mark cunts in Paris we would be “chuffed” if we got Zlatan in exchange. Err I think most would feel sick I know I would . Fucking idol greedy cunt piggybacking on every fucking teams successes for a season then fucking off. Stick to cricket Gough.

  42. Sparkz says:

    @Wayne –

    have a look at those links mate, that shows his injuries in the second half of last season. I was wrong about him returning in the Everton game though, he came back a couple of games before that, made substitute appearances against Wigan and Villa. Everton was his first start.

  43. phil 67 says:

    raf evans vid evra

    val carrick and

    vp chi

  44. wayne says:

    King Eric I agree mate don’t want that big nosed Rent Boy cunt at OT,all those cunts who go to PSG for the money and no challenge I don’t want at OT.Rooney wouldn’t want to go there anyway he wants competitive football

  45. phil 67 says:

    2 – 1

    Home win vp roo

    Tight night but we will prosper

  46. Todd says:

    Welbeck is one of those players that I want to like much more than I end up doing. I love his work rate, his speed and his strength. He’s also doing much better at getting himself into good positions.
    I definitely like how he works the opposing back line and wears them down.

    What I always cringe at is his final touch. I know he’s still young and has time to learn, but I really wish he could get that last touch down. Too many times he’s let himself down when he could’ve created something great.


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