Danny Welbeck can barely have wished for a better first full campaign in Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad. Having returned from a year on loan at Sunderland the Longsight-born striker made 39 appearances for Manchester United last term, 27 of them starts, scoring 12 goals in all competitions. Now, Ferguson has set Welbeck a new task; to score more than 20 in the coming Premier League season. It’s a challenge Welbeck is certainly capable of, but only if the 21-year-old earns sufficient game time.
Indeed, even with Michael Owen leaving the club this summer, and Dimitar Berbatov set to remain on the periphery or depart Old Trafford, Sir Alex must still crowbar four players into two forward spots, whatever the system.
Shinji Kagawa’s acquisition for up to £17 million from Borussia Dortmund means that Ferguson is still likely to rotate a quartet of attacking players in just two roles, whether deploying the 4-4-1-1 system so often seen last season, or the much discussed 4-2-3-1 that seemingly suits Kagawa’s talents.
Moreover, with Javier Hernández likely to hit the ground running after a summer of rest and a full pre-season, there is no guarantee that Welbeck will start the new campaign in Ferguson’s team. With Welbeck unlikely to join the tour party until Ferguson’s squad returns to Europe in August the onus is on Chicharito, Kagawa, and perhaps even Berbatov, to stake their respective claims.
Still, Ferguson’s belief in Welbeck has seemingly been enhanced by the striker’s showing at Euro 2012, where the England number nine scored once – a superb back-heel against Sweden – in four appearances, and walked away from the tournament reputation enhanced.
“If you look at the games he played for England at the Euros, he’s never played three games in seven days before, well certainly not for us,” said Ferguson of a player whom he has seen grow into the United shirt.
“So he did really well in that respect. That’s where maturity and development comes in. We’ve fostered him. He’s always had growth spurts and things like that, so we fostered him right that period when he was developing. I don’t think he’s got his full body yet. I think there’s a lot of growth in him yet. I don’t think he’ll get taller, he’s 6ft 3ins now.
“He’s very powerful and, once that growth thing stops, I think you’ll find he can play three games in seven games. There won’t be a problem with that. He’s got good movement, courage and confidence with the ball.
“Obviously, he will have to improve his goalscoring. I think he got nine goals last season but if you are going to be a top striker you have to get 20 goals or above. That will happen to him, I think he will do that.”
In the meantime Welbeck’s brothers, added Ferguson, continue to negotiate a new contract for the striker, with player and club seemingly at an impasse over the deal. Few expect Welbeck to walk away from Old Trafford when his contract ends in just under a year’s time, but it cannot help but play on the striker’s mind.
Meanwhile, Welbeck will have little hope of unseating Rooney from the first team – the player with whom he struck up a fine partnership last season – leaving three seeking, realistically, a single spot, at least for United’s bigger games. Especially with Rooney so productive last season, even in a deeper role.
“Where Wayne has improved is his consistency in scoring goals,” Ferguson told PA Sport.
“He got 32 goals last season and that has made a difference to his game. It’s difficult to say whether he is at a peak or not but his goalscoring has certainly given us more of a reward.”
Meanwhile, Kagawa, who played around four minutes of United’s friendly victory over AmaZulu FC in Durban on Wednesday night, is seeking what was, last season at least, Rooney’s deep-lying forward role in Ferguson’s side. Either that, or Sir Alex will do as Sir Alex does and push the Japanese play-maker into a wide position.
However, assuming Kagawa isn’t wasted on the wing, the 23-year-old’s best hope of playing a pivotal role in United’s upcoming campaign is to force Welbeck onto the sidelines. Something has to give.
Kagawa is likely to start United’s fixture against Cape Town Ajax this coming Saturday as Ferguson rotates his limited tour resources before United depart for China.
“I’ve joined the club but I’ve not shown my potential yet, so this is my first mission and I hope I can show all the supporters what I am able to do,” Kagawa added after coming on as a late substitute on Wednesday.
“This is a great club and I’m looking forward to playing. I have to prove myself on the pitch.”
Welbeck could say the same, despite the positive showing last time out. After all, while 12 goals is a decent return, a one-in-three strike-rate is unlikely to ensure the youngster remains a starter in United’s biggest fixtures. The challenge for Welbeck is to step up a level, adding a lethal streak to the undoubtedly quality on the ball that the striker has developed over the past two campaigns.
Yet, with Hernández and Kagawa snapping at his heals, it is a challenge that Welbeck will do well to meet over the coming season. Perhaps the biggest task of a fledgling career to date.
21 thoughts on “Welbeck told to hit 20 in fight for United place”
Hope that Welbeck can be more clinical in front of goal this season. IMHO, his hold-up play is certainly better than Chicharito’s (who really needs to improve that aspect of his game) and so is an asset alongside Rooney in games where teams park the bus and defenders are organised and sit deep. Can’t wait for to see Kagawa play for United for the first time this Saturday even though it is just a pre-season game. Wonder whether Macheda will be in Fergie’s plans this season or will again be loaned out.
As a polite side note:
‘Danny Welbeck can hardly of wished for a better first full campaign in Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad.’
‘…can hardly HAVE…’
Condi – yes, it’s a crap first line now corrected. But why is it new commenters always have to be the condescending idiots correcting a mistake in public. I’ve never heard from you before. It’s not as if I don’t know that’s a mistake. It’s late, this is a hobby, I don’t have a sub, mistakes happen. I normally correct them myself.
What do you think you are, a primary school teacher? You on a mission, because I’m obviously THAT stupid? Do you feel better about your life now you’ve got it out, in public, rather than emailing me? Polite my arse.
Love reading your stuff as always Ed
Spelling Ninjas, they’re everywhere!
Outstanding reply Ed!
Good read. Danny deserves his chance to shine. Would like to see him and Kagawa step up to the point where we don’t need to rely on Wazza anymore!
Slightly oversensitive response, Ed. Great article though. Lord please prevent Fergie from deploying Kagawa on the wing
Don – yeah sorry, straw that broke the camel’s back last night 😉
I highly rate Welbeck but Fergie expect a bit too much from him, in the stage of career. Still need 1-2 more seasons to grow up into full starter. Welbeck has been given half free ticket to team but that is Fergie’s decision.
he’ll get 15
Although I know deep down he’ll never be as good as Rooney, I hope Welbeck displaces him in the team. It would be great to have someone to actually challenge Rooney for a place.
With Sir Alex being quoted in the papers saying that Michael Carrick is the key player for the coming season and United’s chances for winning the Champions League, and then saying he matches up to Modric, K.Toure, and Gerrard in terms of quality, it sounds like the propaganda is now being spun to prepare us for yet another season without a real rebuilding of the midfield. We’d better hope Welbeck’s got 20 goals in him……
I tought that myself when I read what saf said about carrick. Obviously we’re not getting the Brazilian lad either then. Where will it leave welbeck if by some minor miracle we sign van persie?
We also better hope Vidic is fit as both Smalling and Evans will miss the beginning of the season.
a bit off topic but does anyone think chicharito needs to be loaned out for the season???he had a poor last season.apart from good finishing he has a lot to improve in his overall game and regular starts could do wonders for him like it did to welbeck at sunderland.i don’t mind sending him out especially if we are to get one of van persie or lucas moura(i know its a long shot)what does everybody think??????
Chicharito and Wellbeck need to improve, thats why SAF publically said that United had put in a bid for Van Persie. From my information, we are trying to buy Lucas Moura, Van Persie and Baines. As I said before, SAF has the money to buy all three of these players but these players clubs and agents keep increasing the price to buy these players. One minute they want 25 million and then when you bo back to close the deal, the price jumps up to 35 million. This is the problem that Fergie is having in closing the deals on these players. Lot of bullshit going on, but it will all workout in the end.
Have you ever considered, Herbie dearest, undertaking a rather exciting endeavour? May I suggest the crowd-pleasing SHUTTING THE FUCK UP with a side of NOT SPOUTING SHITE?
“From my information”???
What information is that Herbie???
The morning papers?
leave herbie alone
No… he’s a cunt!
he’s right about hernandez tbf, a nothing player
I don’t much rate Hernandez either, but he’s a useful tool to have on the bench for his pace against tired legs… if only the dozy cunt would learn to stay onside.