Challenging on three fronts coming into February, Manchester United are beginning to draw comparisons with their 1999 treble winning team particularly in terms of their forward department. However, something is amiss. The continued presence of Danny Welbeck is baffling and something that has not been questioned enough as the season has evolved. Clearly talented, Welbeck is a player that can occasionally be sensational, but generally is disappointing and his form in front of goal this season justifies this assertion.
His goals tally this season sums it up — only one goal scored in all competitions. Yet he has played in over 20 games! Clearly these statistics are alarming and every United fan must wonder if Sir Alex’s faith in Welbeck this season will ultimately see United usurped when the honours are given out in May. For a player of lightning speed and great height, Welbeck never utilizes these strengths to impinge upon the opposition defences. Too often over the season has he remained lethargic in his movement and consequently his goal tally has reflected his struggles. Playing against Spurs last weekend, Welbeck produced the odd moment of excellence to carry the ball past defenders yet his final ball was horrific and he passed up some opportunities to shoot at goal himself. It is obvious that he is a game player who always works hard for the team, however mentioning him in the same sentence as United’s strike force of 1999 is simply misguided. Can you imagine Welbeck coming off the bench and transforming a Champions League semi-final? Clearly you cannot. Therefore I find it worrying that he is playing in some of the big games instead of Hernandez and Rooney.
The primary objective of any striker is to score goals, yet Welbeck’s record this season implies that this is not a prerequisite. How can United navigate their way past Real Madrid in the Champions League if Welbeck makes an appearance? Simply put they can’t. If he plays any part of the two legged tie then United when be making an early exit from a competition that Sir Alex cherishes the most. While I do acknowledge that Welbeck is a young striker with obvious talent as mentioned previously, I am firmly against him receiving game time in crucial matches ahead of forwards who can actually put the ball in the net.
Last season was obviously a painful one for United relinquishing the title to City and making an early exit for Europe. With Welbeck being preferred to Berbatov on pivotal occasions, United failed to score enough goals and quite rightfully lost the title to City on goal difference. At a club like United, for the team to succeed everyone must be making an impact. Unfortunately as the statistics underline, Welbeck quite simply hasn’t being delivering so far this season. While I would be delighted to be proved wrong come the end of the season, I fear from a United perspective that the more we see of Welbeck on the pitch, the greater the likelihood of United ending trophyless come May. Perhaps Welbeck may prove me wrong, but I am a firm believer in statistics and so far this season he has scored only once (October) and had only three assists. In a team where Van Persie or Rooney could achieve these stats in a solitary game, is there really a reason to persist with Welbeck?