Danny Welbeck is one of England’s brightest prospects and also part of one of the strongest set of strikers ever assembled in the history of the Premier League. But does the Red Devil get the recognition he deserves?
When the England frontman was on loan at Sunderland I was surprised as to just how complete a footballer we had on our books for the season. Welbeck’s deceptively strong, with plenty of skill, a great first touch and extremely quick feet. Add to that his pace and finishing, and you saw calibre of footballer that rarely graces the Stadium of Light.
My only regret with the United striker’s short-term stay on Wearside was how little we got to see of Welbeck in his preferred position. His stay at the North East club coincided with a time when Sunderland boosted arguably the best strike-force outside of the top six of the Premier League. Big-money singings Asamoah Gyan and Darren Bent were often first-choice under Steve Bruce leaving much of Welbeck’s time was spent on left-wing. Even though mainly stuck out wide Welbeck still contributed six goals and plenty of creativity to Sunderland despite being a Premier League novice in an unfamiliar position.
Things could have progressed further after Christmas, had injuries not scuppered much of the 21 year old’s progress after Christmas he may have had more chances to improve his goal tally and the Black Cats end to the season. Under Steve Bruce a post-Christmas slump saw the Wearsiders go from European contenders to relegation scrappers. When Darren Bent was sold he stood to benefit most but injuries prevented that, but one memorable performance up front won’t be forgotten by Sunderland fans any time soon. With Bent side-lined it was Welbeck who lead the line with Gyan, picking up the man of the match award, as his inspiration performance acted as a catalyst which helped Sunderland to a 3-0 win away at Chelsea.
Sunderland aside, Welbeck is starting to show his worth for England, he did admirably against France as a lone striker at Euro 2012. He further turned heads with his sublime winner in the Three Lions chaotic triumph over Sweden. And yet despite his obvious value to the England side one strike which should have been saved against Italy has catapulted Jermain Defoe, ahead of the Manchester lad in Roy Hodgson’s England set up.
Defoe is quite simply a very good goal-scorer but outside of his goals the diminutive striker offers little in hold up play and bringing others into play. Against Ukraine Welbeck was introduced with just under half an hour left in the fixture and brought a penetration and cutting edge to England that was previously missing. It was Welbeck who won the penalty which allowed Frank Lampard to convert a late equaliser.
Criticism around Welbeck has come due to his lack of goals last year; he managed only 12 in all competitions. But I don’t believe that’s a major issue, I’m convinced he will start to bag more goals as he gains more experience, last year was his first season as a Manchester United regular and he has plenty of time to improve still being only 21.