Welbeck in the Shadows

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WelbeckIn the wake of Danny Welbeck’s on-off loan move to Premier League strugglers Reading, @willowsj takes a look at Welbeck’s form since the start of season 2010.

The latest Man Utd transfer news suggests that the deal to take Welbeck to Reading for the remainder of the season has been dismissed by manager Brian McDermott who believes Sir Alex won’t sent him out on loan to any club.

I’ll never forget the start of Manchester United’s home campaign last season, a 3-0 victory over Tottenham. Putting the fact that it was a fantastic result aside, United looked youthful and rejuvenated. A side which included Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Tom Cleverley. However, one man stood out more than the rest. Danny Welbeck.

After being first spotted by United at the age of six, Welbeck had to wait until 2008 to appear for the first team. Inevitably the stage was too great for him, so he left on loan. A spell at Preston didn’t offer much hope, being hampered by injury throughout. It was however during his time at Sunderland that we began to see glimpses of prospect. 26 Premier League games and 6 goals for the campaign, and he was still only 20.

It was no surprise that Sir Alex Ferguson opted against sending him out on loan the following season, it seemed as though he could be inline a first-team opportunity.

Welbeck – probably earlier than even he expected – did in fact start United’s first game of the season, the Community Shield against Manchester City.

Following the relatively recent departure of Ronaldo and Tevez it was clear Sir Alex needed to make a decision as to who would play alongside Rooney upfront. At the time Welbeck was battling against Javier Hernandez – who himself scored 20 goals in his first season at the club – and Dimitar Berbatov, who was beginning to look less prominent in Ferguson’s plans. Two clinical strikers to say the least. Clearly Ferguson had faith in Welbeck, who began to start week-in-week-out. His ability to hold the ball up and eye for goal kept him in the team in a season where he finished with 12 goals, playing just under 40 appearances.

Heading into the summer Welbeck must have been brimming with confidence. He’d cemented his place in the team and played a part in the departure of a “desperately unhappy” Dimitar Berbatov, who couldn’t get a look in. Hernandez too didn’t look as sharp as the season before. Everything began to fall into place. Welbeck was arguably England’s best player at the Euros too.

Danny+Welbeck+Reading+v+Manchester+United+bhU7C-ZQ-2elBut then United welcomed the arrival of a certain Robin Van Persie.

Welbeck has since fallen into the shadows at Old Trafford. The bullish athletic character that we saw last season has been limited to 10 starts this season; 6 of which have been in an attacking midfield/winger role that he just doesn’t look comfortable in.

1 goal this season.

The stats speak for themselves. I’d love to say it’s not all about scoring goals, if a player’s influencing the game and looking sharp – but Welbeck really isn’t.

I feared the arrival of Robin Van Persie would result as such, but when Van Persie’s already the league’s top scorer with 20 in all competitions, who’s going to complain?

It’s no surprise then that Welbeck is supposedly on his way out on loan with Reading looking like favorites to capture the England internationals services. And that’s truly what he is: An England international. From a United perspective no one can complain about Van Persie, he’s come in and simply done what he’s had to: score goals. However, it’s sad to see such prospects struggling to keep their heads above the water.

Danny Welbeck is an all round athlete and proven goalscorer. His services somewhere like Reading could prove to be the difference between a successful season, as it was at Sunderlandand, or a disappointment. I hope though for his sake, he continues to fight for his place in the United team – even if that does mean going out on loan in the short term.

Let us not forget, he’s only just turned 22.


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