Back in mid-December, when Manchester United was mired in the tumultuous and ultimately fateful run of David Moyes, the skipper spoke up about one of his brightest young players.
“We had a word with [Danny Welbeck] about a month ago and we said that he needs to be the last off the training field,” Moyes said during a press conference.
“Wayne [Rooney]’s out there practicing his finishing each day…I said: ‘Danny, you need to be out there every day finishing, even if it’s 15 minutes at the end’.”
Well, the 23-year old forward has finally responded, telling reporters it hurt to hear his manager tell the public these things.
“I was pretty surprised [at what he said] to be honest,” Welbeck said. “Before he made that statement I was doing extra training. Maybe he just didn’t see it. I’ve grown up at Manchester United and been professional all through my career and I always do extra work. It’s born and bred in me to do extra work after training and maybe he wasn’t seeing that extra stuff. I was doing extras in the gym and on the pitch.”
Not only was Welbeck unhappy with what his manager said publicly, he also clearly wasn’t happy with his decisions privately as well. The young striker told reporters he wishes to play centrally, the spot currently manned by the soon-to-be captain Robin van Persie.
“It does get frustrating. You want to be playing in a certain position and you’re not getting the opportunity to do that,” Welbeck said. “It’s the same for everyone – when they are being played out of position they don’t really like it. I’d like to play central. I’ve been playing on the left for a while and it’s got to the time where I want to stake a place up front.”
Welbeck took the opportunity to point to his time at England, noting he has a better scoring ratio with country than club, and suggested it could be a formational thing. He said playing the 4-4-1-1 that Moyes employs doesn’t suit him as much, because he gets stuck out wide on a 4-man midfield, having to cover defensively with fewer central midfielders to back him up.
However, with England under Roy Hodgson, Welbeck thrives int he 4-3-3 setup, with three central midfielders to cover and spending more time and legs on attacking. “Maybe I’m kind of let off the leash a bit more for England than United,” Welbeck noted.
It’s unknown how the youngster will be used under Louis van Gaal, but one thing is for sure, if van Persie stays healthy, there’s no way Welbeck supplants his new manager’s favorite player. Therefore, it may be in his best interests to seek new pastures if he wishes to play centrally.
When asked if he wants to leave Old Trafford or considered it last season, Welbeck said curiously, “I’d rather not answer that question.”