One good season not enough – Welbeck on Brighton

Danny Welbeck
Danny Welbeck scored six Premier League goals for Brighton last season

It is typical of Danny Welbeck’s jovial nature that the only time he gets serious during a chat in a New Jersey hotel comes right at the end, when he has a personal point to make.

Welbeck’s age regularly crops up during the interview with BBC Sport, and the Brighton forward acknowledges a career in football “goes so quickly”.

He is 32 now – his Manchester United debut as a 17-year-old was in 2008. Only Adam Lallana and new arrival James Milner in Brighton’s squad are older than the former England striker.

“At the moment I feel fit and strong and am really looking forward to this season,” said Welbeck. “I have done some pre-season tests and I am up there at the top of them even though quite a few of the squad are younger.

“You put the graft in and it is good that it pays off.”

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No time to rest at Brighton

Welbeck made 37 appearances for Brighton last season in a campaign that saw them lauded across the English game for their adventurous approach.

They finished sixth – the highest position in their history – and with it secured qualification for Europe for the first time and as a result will go straight into the group phase of the Europa League in the upcoming season.

Many observers also felt the Seagulls were unlucky not to beat Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final in April.

Manager Roberto de Zerbi is, however, not allowing his players time to bask in their success.

“You can’t do one good season and think that is enough,” said Welbeck. “It is never enough. That is a lot of what the manager says.

“He wants us to be pushing on. If we have one good performance, he wants the next one to be even better, the next one has to be better again.

“It is the same with the seasons. Obviously it is over a longer period of time but the manager has the desire to improve every single person at the club and he instils the belief that we want to be better.

“There is no resting. We are going to push ourselves and see what we can do in every single competition this year.”

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De Zerbi and the detail

De Zerbi rightly earned plenty of plaudits last season for not only stabilising the situation at the Amex Stadium when Graham Potter left for Chelsea in September but improving it, introducing a high-risk tactical strategy that opponents found it difficult to combat.

After an initial five-match run without a win, Brighton did not go two Premier League games without a victory from October until the end of the season.

Welbeck played under two of the Premier League’s great managers, Sir Alex Ferguson and then five seasons with Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, but is reluctant to make direct comparisons between those legends and his current boss, saying there are “different ways to get success”.

“The game has changed since I started playing in the Premier League,” says Welbeck.

“Tactically, the detail that goes into each game is huge – especially playing under this manager, you have to know every single detail on the pitch, not just for your position but for all the positions.”

Passing on advice

Although Welbeck feels he has plenty to contribute to the Brighton this season, he acknowledges his career is passing by in the blink of an eye.

“Last season I found myself speaking to Evan [Ferguson, 18] and I was saying ‘time does fly, don’t waste it’.

“I remember having conversations like that with my elders in the first team growing up at United. Here I am having that conversation with ‘Little Big Ev’.

“At Manchester United there were lots of players to guide me and give me advice. It meant a lot back then hearing that sort of stuff, listening to people who had been through certain situations and different experiences, who have a lot of knowledge in the game.

“I am always happy to help with the other players. It is pretty easy for them to come and talk to me. It’s nice to pass on a bit of knowledge and experience.”

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