I was hoping to be writing a piece on how a Danny Welbeck inspired Manchester United to progress to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
However, because of a certain referee and dismissal that perhaps should never have been, I find myself instead writing how unlucky Welbeck is to have been on the eliminated side.
Debate rages on about how good Welbeck actually is. I’m in no doubt, when he plays, he is one of United’s star performers. With the arrival of Robin van Persie, his playing time has been limited this season, and some would feel he has struggled to build on what was a very good first full season at the Red Devils.
In what many saw as a surprise start in 2011/2012 Community Shield against Manchester City, he had a hand, with some neat footwork, in Nani’s equalising goal as United came back from 2-0 down to defeat those noisy neighbours.
He formed a somewhat effective partnership with Wayne Rooney, finishing the season with nine league goals and assisting a further four. The season ended on a sour note though, as United lost the title on goal difference.
As afore mentioned in the previous paragraph, Welbeck has struggled to hold down a consistent place in the United starting eleven for the season of 2012/13 as Van Persie has taken to the United first team like a duck to water.
Looking at his two performances against Real Madrid then, he has shown maturity beyond his years, and certainly did not look out of place around the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Mesut Ozil and Karim Benzema just to name but a few. His work rate in the Santiago Bernabeu was of the highest quality, his running off the ball was first class and kept centre backs Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos extremely busy, the latter being the marker that Welbeck escaped to score a headed goal from corner. A job well done in Spain, and back to Old Trafford with an away goal, with which United hoped to build on.
Three weeks had passed, and Welbeck again gets the nod and starts in behind Van Persie. The tactical plan set out by United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, to stifle the Madrid attack works perfectly and after a nervous first ten minutes, United felt their way into the game and started to dominate proceedings.
A few near misses and some excellent work stopping the ticking heart beat of the Madrid midfield that is Xabi Alonso, Welbeck comes off perhaps disappointed having not scored, after two fine saves from Diego Lopez. Again Welbeck has shown determination, strength, power and pace in what was a top performance.
Unfortunately for him he was eventually substituted, with United chasing a game that, had they still had 11 men on the pitch they would most likely have won. But for Welbeck, he will be hurt after going out of the tournament but will be stronger for it and can be mighty proud of just what he's shown to the millions of viewers that were supposed to have tuned in.
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