England international forward Danny Welbeck spoke to Sky Sports to discuss rejection by Manchester City, why he is due a testimonial at Manchester United and his goalscoring ambitions for the new season. Geoff Shreeves has the questions...
Last Updated: 04/09/13 7:30am
You're approaching 23 now. Do you still see yourself as a young player?
"I'm quite young compared to a lot of players on my team so I'm still learning obviously. It's the same with the senior members of the squad. They're still learning every single day. I think 22, 23, you are approaching the age where you really should be established. You want to have a high level of performance in each game. You're coming out of that young phase now and you really want to just mature into your own man. At 22 or 23 you are on the verge of becoming a man, not just mentally but physically."
So you're now at the age where you want to be seen as established rather than a promising talent?
"I'm coming to the age where I really want to be an established member of the team. To do that you've got to work hard every single day in training and perform at the next day's training session not just the next game. You also need to switch off when you're away from football, do the things that you do, but once you come back to training you need to be as focused as ever, work as hard as you've ever done and make sure you're bettering yourself each and every single day."
Does the intensity of competition at Manchester United mean you can never slack off?
"Being at Manchester United, I've been living with it all my life really. Coming through the youth ranks, they're always looking at the best players in the world to come in and there's going to be stiff competition at every single level. It's no different in the first team. They're always looking to buy world-class players and I know once I get on the training pitch I've got to work hard. Obviously, with the quality of the players in and around the group, there is no time for slacking at all. Once everyone gets their chance they're going to give it their best shot so you've got to be ready."
Is it more difficult to establish yourself as a young player who has come through the ranks?
"It's different. There are positives to it and there are negatives. If you've come through the ranks it might be a bit more difficult because if someone has been brought into the club then you may be pushed forward a little more. But I think coming through the academy you've had the experience of growing up at Manchester United. You know the history and you know what it means. You might be a United fan so you know how much you really want to make it and play for your boyhood club. Having the best coaching from a young age too... There are so many positives and so many negatives, you've just got to balance it out and make sure you keep improving."
Has it been a dream come true for you so far, being a local lad and a United fan?
"Yeah, it has been a dream come true. Obviously, I've been born and bred on the streets of Manchester. Being picked up by Manchester United at the age of eight was massive for me. It's just been a steady progression."
Eight?! That's very young...
"It was crazy really. I was at (Manchester) City before that and that didn't go to plan. I was with City at seven and trialling with them for a couple of months but just before Christmas they told my dad that they didn't want me to come back after Christmas. But we had a tournament in the New Year and the United scouts watched me play for my Sunday League team, Fletcher Moss. That's when I got picked up. I went on trial, did my stuff and I've been at United ever since. I'm due a testimonial soon - me and Giggsy can do a joint one!"
What would you have said back then if someone told you that you'd make it to the first team?
"I'd probably have took it! There are so many kids that you're training with. So many people come and go. There are players that develop a lot earlier than you physically so they might be stronger, better, faster and all that sort of stuff. I was pretty small for my age when I was young so I was learning the technical side of things probably more than the other players who were bigger than me. Perhaps they were relying on that a bit too much. When the smaller players begin to grow into a man themselves, that's when people really start to shine through I think. The scholarship age is a pivotal period for a lot of players and it's a time when you've really got to show your stuff on the pitch."
How did it affect you when Sir Alex Ferguson left because he'd been around ever since you joined when you were eight and shown a lot of faith in you?
"It was one of those moments when you're not sure whether it is really happening or not. Once he told us in the dressing room it was like an empty feeling inside. You can just feel the dressing room was motionless. We were listening to Sir Alex Ferguson give some of his final words to the team. It was one of those moments that you'll never forget in your life. You know this man has brought you through from a youngster to the first team. I just want to continue the faith that he's shown in me, keep on improving and make sure I can be the best I can be."
Did it worry you that just because one manager has shown a lot of faith in you, another might not be of the same opinion?
"It wasn't in my head that I'd got to be worried about the next manager coming in. At that time we didn't know who it was. But I had confidence in my ability and I knew where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do with my football career. Some people might have different opinions and people move on, that's just the way of life and you can't change that. If it was my time (to move on) then it would have been my time."
How would you describe your start to the season?
"It's been good. I've doubled my tally. What more do you want?! I don't have to score any more goals now! I'm joking. Obviously, last season I scored one goal in the Premier League and it was a fact I looked back on and was very disappointed in myself. We'd won the Premier League and I was over the moon to do that and I knew I'd played very well in a lot of the games but not scored the goals. I really want to be scoring goals as well. It was a good start at Swansea.
"Last week I was playing on the wing against Chelsea. It's nothing new to me but you do feel a bit limited. Even if I'm on the left wing though, I still want to be scoring goals. So if I'm out there, I'll still be getting into the box as well. But obviously you've got to work back for the team and fill in different positions. It's difficult but growing up at Manchester United you've had the best education really, playing across all the front four positions. So if I'm on the left wing, in the middle as the one up top or the one in behind or on the right wing I'll be able to do a job."
Did you analyse last season? Did you look back to find out why you only scored one Premier League goal?
"Definitely. A lot of my games last season were playing from the left wing and I didn't get into the box as much. Most goals I score are in and around the six-yard box and the penalty area. I don't think I got into those situations as much in the games. I've been looking back at the games with the new coaching staff and going over them, doing more work on the pitch on finishing after training. Just to make sure that when I get into those positions I take them. You might only get one chance a game playing left wing so you really want to put it away. You gain confidence with every single goal. I know that if I play as the main man up top then I'll be scoring goals and I've got confidence in myself doing that."