Welbeck repaying Moyes’ faith with goals

Norwich City 0 Man United 1

Welbeck repaying Moyes’ faith with goals

Which would be quite an improvement on last term, when he managed just two for Manchester United.

It would also be quite an achievement for a man who knows there is usually a place for him on the bench, alongside Javier Hernandez, whenever Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney are fit.

But on this occasion neither were and Welbeck ended up winning the game, coming on at half-time for the anonymous Shinji Kagawa, livening things up in the Norwich half and going on to net a rather lucky goal.

Hernandez, who started, had a part in that with an inadvertent assist as Welbeck’s block off a Ryan Bennett clearance which bounced off him straight to his strike partner, who raced on to round the goalkeeper.

But it was Welbeck they were talking about afterwards, not the Mexican, who has scored only once in the Premier League in 2013-14.

“We have said to him we are trying to keep his finishing up,” Moyes said. “Danny has responded, he’s saying ‘hey this is quite good, I’m beginning to score some goals and getting recognised for that as well’.

“With the second half of the season to go, he should be certainly looking to score 20 goals. We need him to do that because when you don’t have Wayne and you don’t have Robin then you need people to step up to the mark. In quite a few of the games recently he has done that for us.”

United “found a way to win the game” therefore, which was Moyes’ way of saying they managed to squeak through while being battered for long periods. The United back line was busy throughout as Norwich could not turn relentless pressure into goals.

Red shirts were desperate just to run the clock down near the end and Russell Martin, the Norwich captain, thought that was telling.

“They have now gone away with 1-0, and it tells a story when in the last 10 minutes they are taking the balls into the corners, so that shows you how well we have done,” he said.

“It is extremely difficult to take because if you analyse the game, they did not create too much and the goal we have given away was very poor.”

Whichever way you look at this 90 minutes, it cannot be denied that United are moving steadily up the table; ominously perhaps as they are traditionally a second half of the season club. This was a sixth successive win in all competitions and no-one is talking about Moyes being under pressure now, especially as the Champions League campaign is also going smoothly.

“I am not sure there was pressure on the manager,” argued Ashley Young, whose recent upturn in form mirrors the team’s. “When any new manager comes in, all teams will go through a difficult spell.

“We have been through that patch and have shown in the last few games how well we have come out of that. Everyone is looking forwards now, the club team and staff are all pulling in the right direction, as long as we keep the momentum going I am sure we will be fine.”

But can a team that heads for the corner flag at Carrow Road really be good enough to finish above Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea?

“If you were to ask anybody around the club, no-one would have ever said we were out of the title race,” Young insisted.

“It is more the character and the team spirit we have got, to bounce back from defeats and disappointing performances. When we show that resilience, that strength in depth in the squad, that team spirit, we have got all that off the field.

“When you take that onto the field, you win games and we have shown that in the past few performances. I keep talking about the momentum we are building, as long as we keep playing the way we have, we will keep building that up.”

The modest Moyes insisted United had “nothing to shout about at the moment” but that could soon change, especially when Rooney and van Persie are finally reunited.

Rooney, rested because of a groin niggle is expected to be back for Wednesday’s visit of Tottenham. Norwich, for their part, travel to fellow strugglers Crystal Palace hoping for a slice of the good fortune that came Welbeck’s way.

NORWICH (4-4-1-1): Ruddy 7; Martin 7, R Bennett 6, Bassong 7, Olsson 7; Snodgrass 7 (Josh Murphy 79), Johnson 6, Fer 6, Redmond 7; Hoolahan 7 (Elmander 89) Hooper 7 (van Wolfswinkel 69, 4).

MANCHESTER UNITED (4-2-3-1): De Gea 7; Smalling 7, Vidic 8, Evans 7, Evra 6; Carrick 7, Giggs 6 (Welbeck 46, 8); Young 7, Cleverley 6, Kagawa 4 (Januzaj 69, 5); Hernandez 6 (Fletcher 86).

Referee: Phil Dowd 6.

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