Welbeck is worth the wait
Sir Alex Ferguson says Danny Welbeck must be patient for chances in United’s first team, but he has promised the young striker that his future is as a centre forward.
After a hugely impressive first full campaign last season in which Longsight-born Welbeck excelled through the middle of the Reds’ attack, his opportunities have been hindered by the arrival of Robin van Persie and the recent form of Javier Hernandez, often finding game time in a wide left attacking role.
“With Robin coming in and when we’ve got Wayne as well, you tend to rely on the experience of these players,” Sir Alex told reporters on Friday. “They are great players too. What we have to try and do is alternate selections so that Danny feels he is making a contribution. At the moment, we have tended to play him wide left. I think he’s capable of playing there. He is a threat coming in off the wing and he has done that many times. But I think he is a natural centre-forward.
“Danny’s best form has actually been with England. He has not had the opportunities with us to play centre-forward all the time. But that will come. We’ve tended to play him wide left, which is maybe a little bit unfair to him. But nonetheless he has shown with his form with England that he can be a real asset to us through the middle. That will come for him.”
Sir Alex’s options up front – with four strikers competing for two places – recalls the healthy selection problems faced in the 1998/99 Treble-winning campaign with Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
“Teddy [Sheringham] was never happy being left out, and certainly Coley was never happy being left out!” Sir Alex added. “He’d be grumpy and groan for days about it. He wanted to play all the time. I think it’s great if the players want to play all the time. I think the important thing is that they feel they make a contribution over the course of the season.
“That’s where [in ‘99] they felt that they made their contribution. They all scored such important goals whether coming on or actually starting. It’s legend that Sheringham and Solskjaer scored those goals in the Champions League final, and Teddy came on and scored in the FA Cup final. It’s contributions like that that you can’t dismiss.”
Welbeck is still developing as a player and Sir Alex is mindful of giving him the opportunities he needs to keep improving. “What you have to do is be fair,” he said. “It would have been harder for someone more experienced to be left out in 99. It wasn’t easy. The day we won the league I took Teddy off against his old team because I felt the change was needed. I was sure he was not happy at all. But their contribution was that they all played their part over the course of the season. Danny will get opportunities.”