If there has been one thing clear about Louis Van Gaal fledging career at Manchester United, it is the no messing nature of his regime. Compromise? That is not a philosophy or word that the Dutchman even knows the meaning of. Luke Shaw is considered too fat, the training ground to windy, 4-3-3 outdated and useless and Danny Welbeck not good enough but is this fair?
Welbeck is not an awful player, people tend to see footballers in two lights : you are rubbish or you are a superstar, it is black or white but never grey. In no other walk of life is this the way to judge anything : a relationship , a difficult child or even a livelihood. Welbeck is only 23 and he may not be at his peak yet and Wenger will need to improve him but he is a work in progress. Welbeck is not a winger, he is a striker as he proved against Switzerland in Basel. The cool nature of his two finishes show that he has all the attributes to be a top, top striker. Questions linger about his club stats in scoring terms which can only be described as poor.
Questions are born out of uncertainty, even if the answer is pretty much self-explanatory and there are plenty reasons for Welbeck’s poor record in front goal. Firstly, Welbeck is not a winger and it is unfair to see him as one. Players are put on the wing for one of two reasons : they are either good at crossing or they are a failed striker. Arsenal’s new man was only considered a fail striker because of the company he was in at Man Utd : Rooney and Van Persie. Any striker would look poor in these circumstances both Rooney and RVP are exceptional players and Welbeck was overshadowed. He couldn’t compete and as a result was shoved out towards the wings. The journalists had someone to pick on and what was more he was English and vulnerable to criticism. He was unable to play in the centre of the park. His hard work ethic lead to his next problem, he was to hard working to be a good poacher.
While Chefs are known as being hot headed, bus drivers grumpy , strikers are lazy. They score a goal and they are anyone’s hero , but running back to preserve a lead that is complete madness to them . Welbeck has the unfortunate culture trait for a striker of being selfless. The wing must be his position on the pitch , who would you put on the wing against a Bayern Munich or Real Madrid? Welbeck is willing to get back, push opponents and clip player’s heels. All a striker has to do is score goals and that could be left to the new England Captain and RVP. Welbeck was on his way out and had not only become a failed striker at United but also a failed winger.
His apparent inability to score was exaggerated by his confidence, he had buckets of the stuff. Football lovers do not understand a striker who is confident but yet unable to score. Don’t talk about statistics to Roy Hodgson but they are not favourable. Statistics that old chestnut , there is no smoke without damming statistics. His confidence in himself had so cruelly played against him and scoring has become harder, praise less frequent. Goal records are fickle and cover up stats like assists and chances created. They are mean and unhelpful, blunt and mostly unfair. Unfairly Welbeck has been shown to be a poor, poor finisher. It will change and it must.
Welbeck’s next problem is his nationality , he is English and this is never good for a footballer but particularly for a striker. Build them up just to shoot them down seems to be the English attitude, it goes back to the black and white obsession the English have. Look at John Terry , arguably Europe’s finest defender in last decade yet stripped of his captaincy, Rooney what a product and now everyone hates him. Being English is not an easy assignment for a footballer and footballer’s are often scared of letting the country down. Welbeck has not let his country down but he knows he could and this must mean that he is under constant strain. Running scared of what the newspapers might print day in day out , the guy is only 23, he was born in the mid-nineties.
Age is the last component in this cryptic crossfire or rather lack of it. 23 is not old enough to judge anyone a graduate student, a want to be doctor or a promising sportsman. Promise covers the mid-twenties the exact age that Welbeck is coming up too. Welbeck a graduate of United’s academy has a much needed second chance. Transfer feeds are not an indicator of a players ability or worth and as such all this comparison between him and Fulham’s latest signing should be regarded with skepticism. No player ever goes to his board and says ‘I want my transfer fee to be 30 million rather than 20 million’ that is the job of agents. Welbeck may regarded as bargain but only he can show whether that is misleading or accurate.
Manchester United fans have more pressing concerns to address than to be disappointed about the loss of one of their own. Will LVG stick with 3-52? Will RVP be injured most of the season? How will the new signings fit in? The response will soon come and players will soon learn their fate. Van Gaal is a proud man but he is no fool and he will not persist with 3-5-2 forever if it continues to hurt the team. Welbeck did not fit into his new system and he had to go . What does LVG know about tradition?
Wenger is a manager able to fulfill promise, a manager able to patiently nurture and hone players. He has picked up Welbeck and he may just be able to do something with the guy. If he does fail he has only lost £16 million and if he succeeds he will be seen as a great producer of young talent. If an analytical approach is taken to this transfer , then it is hard to see what the potential pitfalls. Welbeck will want to prove the doubters wrong and this is his second and perfect chance to do just that.
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