A mouth watering FA Cup, third round tie with our rivals from across the Pennines, Leeds United.
Long forgotten were the days of Mark Viduka, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Champions League encounters and Premiership title run ins.
Administration and relegated to League 1 for the men in white, this game was already a foregone conclusion with pundits and journalists up and down the UK, an opportunity to laugh at the outfit from Yorkshire, a chance for the red rose to slay the white rose, a chance to really rub salt into the wounds of their recent demise…. Or a chance for an upset?
The echoes of jubilant Leeds fans rang around Old Trafford at the final whistle, and to be honest with you – they were worth their 1-0 victory.
Sir Alex Ferguson, not for the first time had put out a weakened side; one that should have been strong enough to see off any League one outfit, whether they were a bitter rival or not. However the likes of Gabriel Obertan and more importantly, Danny Welbeck, came in for huge criticism after the game.
Almost two years on and Danny Welbeck has started the 2011/12 season extremely well; The young striker has scored two goals in three starts and was putting in performances of the highest level – If anything, he looks like a new £20million signing.
Perhaps spending a season on loan at Steve Bruce’s Sunderland helped him mature? Perhaps it was his age and having developed over the last year and a half from a gangly boy into a sizable man has given him a bigger presence up top? Perhaps he learnt his lesson the hard way and realised just what it will take to make it at United?
It can only be described as a massive shame for Danny Welbeck that he picked up an injury in the home victory over Arsenal and will be out for five weeks. Perhaps he was lucky to find himself starting regularly in the first place, as it was down to an injured Javier Hernandez that left an opening – and being selected ahead of Dimitar Berbatov, Michael Owen, Mame Biram Diouf and Kiko Macheda showed a massive belief in this local lad from the manager.
What happens now? Five weeks out is a long time. Will he walk back into the side again now that Hernandez is fit? I doubt it.
With a third round Carling Cup draw taking Manchester United to Elland Road against the side that almost ruined his chance of making it at Old Trafford, and knowing Sir Alex does like to rotate his squad for Carling Cup fixtures, I ask what happens if Berbatov and Owen both put in impressive displays and Welbeck falls further down the pecking order?
Come mid November will he consider going back out on loan if he finds himself fourth choice and only getting an odd ten minutes here and there?
At his young age, Welbeck does have time on his side; with Owen and Berbatov in their thirties you would have to believe he is the future – but surely any professional who is hungry to be the best and play week in week out at the top level of the game will definitely not settle to be a back up player?
International aspirations always play a major role in these situations – will he get picked at senior level for England if he cannot even get a regular start at United?
Maybe I am over analysing this situation but how many of us honestly believe he will walk straight back into the starting eleven? I hope he does, but I do not expect that he will.
Manchester United are lucky to benefit from having such a talented group of strikers to pick from this season; a great mix of speed, skill, youth, experience and above all, many deadly finishers – however, when he regains his full match fitness, I think Danny Welbeck may find himself out of favour due to this misfortunate and badly timed injury – this for me is the unluckiest of circumstances.
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