Exclusive: Gunners Double winner backs England striker to be a hit at Arsenal
07:15 12 September 2014
England hero Danny Welbeck is preparing to make his Arsenal bow against Manchester City on Saturday – with one former Gunners striker urging fans to give him time to find his feet.
Double winner John Radford admits he is “really happy” to see the Mancunian frontman – who netted both goals for his country in Monday night’s 2-0 win in Switzerland – come to the Emirates.
But Radford, 67, says it is too early to comment on what the new arrival will bring to the side.
“It won’t do us any harm whatsoever getting the lad into the club,” said Radford.
“He is a fine striker, with pace, strength and good technique, so he is someone who can do things for us. I mean, you don’t play for a club like Manchester United for no reason at all, do you?
“But to really judge what he is going to do for us, we have to watch him for a few weeks before we can make a proper assessment on that score. We all have to be patient.”
That said, Radford – who netted 149 goals for the club between 1964 and 1976 – regards the £16m man’s arrival as positive news, because the Gunners have needed reinforcing up front for a while.
“Oh aye, we have strengthened because, at the very least, we now have competition in the centre and have a guy who can replace Olivier Giroud while he is injured,” added Radford, who formed a prolific strike partnership with Ray Kennedy in the 1970/71 Double winning season.
“I have said it before – we have sometimes been a little too light up front in past seasons, but now we have very strong cover up front, whoever sits out, and Welbeck certainly gives us another outlet.
“Will he start on Saturday against Manchester City? I don’t know – you’ll have to ring Arsene Wenger as he is the only person who will know for sure.”
And Radford also believes the Gunners boss will be a positive influence on Welbeck, who netted 20 goals in 90 appearances for United before his shock move south on transfer deadline day.
“Welbeck is young and he will improve, particularly once Wenger gets hold of him on the training ground and starts to work with him,” added the Yorkshireman, who made 475 appearances for the Gunners.
“These are exciting times for the club and the lad.”
Just two days before Welbeck arrived, the Arsenal boss seemed reluctant to buy anyone, saying: “If we buy somebody, somebody will go because we have too many players. We have too many strikers.”
That said, in most observers’ eyes, Arsenal have signed the forward on the cheap – with Louis van Gaal already facing a backlash from some United fans angered at the club’s decision to sell a promising striker who came through the Old Trafford youth system.
United legend Bryan Robson said this week: “At the last minute, Danny went to Arsenal and I thought that is the one move I would not have done.
“You know what Danny is like on a football pitch. He’ll give everything and I think it’s a great signing by Arsenal.”
But can Radford see United’s beleaguered boss regretting his decision to offload Welbeck to a rival?
Radford laughed: “I couldn’t care less. If it bites United on the bum a little, then so be it…”