In the wake of the deadline day signing, we asked Man United fan and all round good egg @BeardedGenius for his thoughts on the move. After some days of tears and sadness, he duly obliged.
Danny Welbeck, Arsenal centre-forward. It doesn’t seem right to me. I’m not sure it ever will. His name on the team sheet always made me smile the most. I love Danny. And not in that twee hyperbolic Twitter way. I exaggerate on there, camping it up for comedy effect. The truth is I’m really proud of our boy and will always want him to do well.
He’s a Mancunian lad who talks like us and plays like we would, if given half the chance. He reminds me a bit of my little brother. It’s really weird but in the absence of any Asian players or anyone of remotely Pakistani origin (Di Maria? Possibly?) Welbeck feels like the closest thing. I know it sounds stupid but that’s how I feel.
He’s from Longsight, which is very multi-cultural. I’ve got a lot of friends from there and used to work nearby at McVities. It’s not the most affluent place in the world but it’s got that sense of burning ambition that conurbations of African and Asian diaspora can generate and spark. It’s the kind of place that people leave but it never leaves them.
And now Danny’s left Longsight. And Manchester United. We can debate why and how as much as we want. The truth is we don’t really know. The fact will remain that he is an Arsenal player now. I know a lot of Arsenal fans were a little … underwhelmed by the signing, I strongly suspect they’ll soon change their minds.
I don’t claim to be objective about Welbeck, but neither is my sadness based purely on blind affection. There is so much to admire about the footballer. No opposition defender or deep-lying middle man will get a moments rest whilst Danny’s about. His work rate is phenomenal and his huge gangly gait eats up yards in the most deceptive way.
He is a formidable athlete with a rude change of pace for a six footer. Broad shoulders and an imposing frame have only filled out properly in recent years and he now holds himself strong and tall, whereas previously he could cut a languid, apologetic figure. He was too nice. He’s learnt how to bully and gained some welcome arrogance.
The obvious counter to any praise is as predictable as it is true: he is a goalscorer who doesn’t score enough goals. His main fault – which is kind of problem for a striker – is his finishing. It is there in black and white statistics and clips of wayward one-on-ones. The only thing I can say to that is just wait and see … it’s not the strongest argument granted.
At United he was never the star man, and rarely the focal point. He was always good ol’ Danny. The kid with the smile on his face, happy enough to start on the bench or play on the wing. On occasions he’d even start up front like a real striker, but only when it didn’t really matter or someone else was poorly sick.
You cannot learn a trade properly if you’re only ever handing tools to another craftsman. You can’t tone your skills by proxy. Welbeck was always plugging holes, performing selfless duties for the greater good. At United it would always remain thus. In the nicest possible way, the club took advantage of his benignity.
At Arsenal he won’t just be part of the furniture. He’s the expensive new capture who I will, I hope, act as fulcrum of the attack. Purely through being purchased rather than a product of nurture he will have greater stock and stature. Leaving Old Trafford was key if he wanted to be taken seriously. Time to be selfish, not selfless.
And all the raw ability is there. He has everything that is required to bloom into a formidable striker. I know I’ve largely focused on his physical attributes but that does him a disservice. He’s sharp of mind and technically gifted. He will love having quick-witted forwards around him and relish Arsenal’s one-touch passing.
I suppose it all comes down to two things: How much do you trust your manager, and how much does he trust Danny? With a right coach, who truly believes in him and gives him that unstinting faith to perform in his correct position, he will flourish. I am sure he will reward that trust.
It hurts to say it but Danny Welbeck, Arsenal centre-forward is right. He deserves that. He isn’t ‘dat guy’. He’s a man to be taken seriously. Front and centre, at long last.