23/01/2009 12:24, Report by Richard Edwards
Focus on... Danny Welbeck
As an introduction to the big stage it couldn’t have been any more emphatic.
Just 21 minutes into his Premier League debut, Danny Welbeck announced his Old Trafford arrival with a goal of such quality that Thomas Sorensen in the Stoke goal was rendered helpless, and fans, young and old, were left purring in admiration.
Welbeck was still two weeks shy of his 18th birthday when he scored United’s fourth in the 5-0 demolition of Tony Pulis’s side at Old Trafford, and the goal recalled memories of another 17-year-old who'd also netted on his debut against the Potteries side some 26 years before.
Norman Whiteside scored United's second in a 2-0 victory over Stoke on the final day of the 1981/82 season.
"My goal wasn’t as impressive as [Welbeck's]," says the Irishman. "I can remember Steve Coppell crossing the ball and me managing to get on the end of it with my head. It was a moment I’ll never forget."
Welbeck’s strike, which was short-listed for Match of the Day
’s Goal of the Month, is likely to linger long in the memory too. But Whiteside believes it will take more than a single wonder strike for the precocious teenager to become a regular for the Reds.
"He faces a real challenge to establish himself in Sir Alex's side," Whiteside says. "His situation is very different to one I faced when I first broke into the United side under Ron Atkinson.
"Back then I was the man in possession and although players like Alan Brazil and Peter Beardsley arrived to try and replace me I stood my ground and stayed in the side. For Danny his problem is going to be breaking into a first-team frontline that is already full of quality players."
Whiteside believes, however, that Welbeck's debut goal will give the