The Manchester United forward was penalised for a high foot, just as he dispatched the ball into Manuel Neuer’s goal early on in the game. Later on in the first half, he darted through the German defence to face Neuer one-on-one. A cool head is always required in such situations. Welbeck was apparently a little too cool.
With Neuer staying on his feet as long as possible, three options opened up for the United forward.
- Power: Put his foot through the ball and hammer it low, hoping that it would be too late for the 'keeper to get to it.
- Dribble the ball around Neuer and slot into an open goal.
- Attempt to chip the giant German national 'keeper from close quarters.
Sadly, with the ball seemingly too close to his foot and his run slowing as he neared the goalkeeper, Welbeck attempted the last option. His tame chip presented Neuer with a gift that he received gratefully.
Prior to the match, Bayern Munich’s manager Pep Guardiola made reference to the great players that United possess. Eyebrows may well have been raised when Welbeck was mentioned.
Look back, though, to his performances against Real Madrid last season, as well as the one that he ended putting in against Bayern and you can see the point.
Questions are often asked about Welbeck’s finishing. His goalscoring record is put to shame by the in-form Daniel Sturridge, for example. Last season saw an incredibly long spell without goals. That is probably a reflection of the position he is often asked to take up for his club side.
As the Independent reports, Welbeck is to be offered a new contract at the club. There can be no doubting his importance to Manchester United.
He was the single most dangerous player for United on Tuesday night. That was not only a reflection of the tactics that David Moyes employed but also of Welbeck’s fearlessness in the face of massive obstacles.
When the side has been lacking this season, the tenacity of Welbeck has been a commodity that, if it were possible, should be bottled and distributed to all.
There are also the little flashes of trickery and flamboyance. Seen by some as incorrect decision-making, surely we should be applauding that a young Englishman—that much-maligned character in world football—has the self-confidence to try something a little bit different.
His goal against Swansea at the start of the season was a joy. And who could forget his cheeky back-heeled goal for England against Sweden in Euro 2012?
His indefatigable spirit meant that he was a constant threat to the Bayern defence, who were stretched by his pace at times. He may well have chosen the wrong method to try and beat Neuer. Whether that was through a lack of confidence that he had the legs still to go round him, or through sheer impudence, he should get credit for being there and attempting it. Hopefully he will learn from the process.
Welbeck is a player who grew up in the Manchester suburb of Longsight, close to the home of another local favourite, Wes Brown. At a time when David Moyes’ summer shopping list resembles a who’s who of European football and is unlikely to feature many Englishmen, he is an important link—not only to England but also the local community that United represent.
Guardiola’s pre-match warning included Welbeck, and the young Mancunian highlighted why. Even taking into account his fluffed chance in the first half, he had a fine game against the world's best club side.
Money may appear to have changed the football landscape beyond all recognition in the last 20 years, but the beautiful game still allows us to dream. Welbeck’s journey shows that those dreams can come true.
Manchester United fans around the globe should revel in the fact that a young football-mad boy has managed to break through to his local football club’s first team—despite the fact that the club in question is one of the biggest in the world.
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