Danny Welbeck’s Diligent Work Deserves More Praise
Now that was more like it! From front to back a proper Manchester United away performance. Lacklustre starts have been our downfall of late, yet the first quarter of this game was our most impressive of the season. The only criticism being our failure to put the game truly out of sight.
The principle reason for this was the wayward finishing from Danny Welbeck. For all his technical ability, he continually snatches at the chances that fall his way and should have been celebrating a brace on his return to the starting eleven. However to condemn his display on this basis would be foolhardy.
Welbeck’s performance was understandably overshadowed by the star turns of Rooney’s homage to Keane, and a back four who didn’t look like they had been introduced to one another minutes before kick off. Yet the influence of the young forward should not be underplayed.
There has been much talk of an evolution to a fluid, pacey style this season; in no small part down to the arrival of Kagawa. The man from Japan is still finding his feet, meaning we have struggled for fluency. At the Wongabowl it was a much more familiar name who helped make us tick. Groans usually follow the realisation of a striker banished to the wing – yet Welbeck’s appreciation of space make him a perfect candidate for the dual forward role.
He may have failed to make the most of the opportunities afforded him but his uncanny knack of appearing in the right place at the right time is one few players possess. Harper’s heavy touch might ordinarily have gone unpunished but for Welbeck’s awareness and tenacity. Credit may also be given from some quarters for the determination to stay upright and attempt an unbalanced finish following the keeper’s desperate last man lunge. I suspect we’ll be waiting a while for the moral guardians of the British press to reconsider their stance of Danny the Diver. Welbeck’s link play with Rooney, Cleverley and van Persie left the home side chasing shadows and reduced to using baser instincts to try and disrupt our rhythm.
Not only did Welbeck inject urgency and unpredictability to our attack but he offered some desperately needed support to our overworked left back. It is no coincidence that our much maligned Frenchman produced his best display for years when aided by a left sided attacker willing to press high up the pitch and force the opposing wide-man to worry more about assisting the full back behind him than attacking the one in front.
Alan Pardew certainly recognised this when switching his most dangerous player Ben Arfa to the other side of the pitch. It was fitting that against the expectations of the majority, it was the dream team of Rooney and van Persie who were withdrawn early meaning the local lad from Longsight remained on the pitch to hear the whistle that called time on his best performance since April.