It’s one of the most painful sights to see as a fan: A former player who used to play for your club, scoring and celebrating against you. Post match the uproar begins, he is ungrateful! He should have more respect. The idiot has forgotten who made him… and so on and so forth. But isn’t that a subjective view from the fans perspective? Why should the player hide his real emotions?
This Saturday Arsenal host Manchester United in what is one of the standout fixtures of the English calender. There is already a subplot: Danny Welbeck born and bred in Manchester facing the team that let him go during the summer. It’s no secret that Welbeck was adored at United, former players and fans aired their disapproval at the move. The fact that he was a local lad who came through the ranks ,rather than his goals (29 in 142 appearances) made him a likable figure ( He also works his bloody socks off!).
One of the first issues on United fans lips was Danny scoring against them in the fixtures against Arsenal. Funnily enough most of them weren’t worried about him celebrating because if I may borrow some slang from Manchester “Welbz is not dat guy.” He is too humble too respectful to do something like that. Well don’t cross your fingers United fans, you don’t have to look further than Manchester’s number 20. Robin Van Persie.
The Dutchmen made the move from Arsenal in the summer of 2012 under controversial circumstances. After nearly a decade of service, where the club stood by him during a stay littered with moments of class but also injuries, the then Arsenal captain decided to force a move by issuing a statement stating that he didn’t agree with the direction the club was going. Of course Manchester United one of Arsenal’s biggest rivals had to get him.
The first meeting between the two clubs that season saw Van Persie jeered throughout the match. Inevitably he scored and raised his hands as if to ask for pardon, keeping a stoic expression while his teammates joyously surrounded him. In the return fixture in London, Van Persie was serenaded with more jeers on his old stomping ground. He scored. No reaction whatsoever. The next season the Dutchmen scored on his old club for a third time … but this time he celebrated. Running, screaming with his arms open ready to embrace the player that had assisted him.
Now some people might say that he finally cracked after receiving so much abuse from the Arsenal fans, I beg to disagree. He was tired of hiding his true emotions. Anyone who has played football at any level understands the ‘rush’ you get from scoring a goal. Submerged with joy and adrenaline your behavior in the next ten seconds cannot be accounted for. Some can handle the ‘rush’ or simply keep it on a low, others let it take control. It does not necessarily mean that you don’t respect your former club, rather that you are happy to find the back of the net at that moment.
There might also be another factor that might influence Welbeck to celebrate: Seeing the man who regarded him as ‘not at the requested level’ to play for Manchester United, coach Louis Van Gaal. Welbeck is a nice guy but he is no pushover as he showed when he cited his being played on the wing instead of his natural center forward position as stifling his progression. A response no doubt to Van Gaal’s comments.
Whatever happens on Saturday, United fans shouldn’t raise their eyebrows if their former favorite nets and celebrates. Instead they should see it for what it is, a 23 year old man enjoying another goal with his new teammates.