Satire: Danny Welbeck checks in with Robin van Persie ahead of crucial clash
OLD TRAFFORD—The mood was tense, despite a recent escape from Selhurst Park. The lads knew that they had been lucky, but ends matter far less than means when trying to end a losing streak. Robin surveyed the locker room and the situation, realising that the club's next match could make or break the season. Champions League qualification hung in the balance. A win or a draw would secure fourth place; a loss kept the door open on slipping to fifth. Shrugging his shoulders indifferently, van Persie whipped out his cellphone and called an old friend—dat guy, Welbz—to see how things were going...
The phone rang once. Twice. Thrice. For a split-second, Robin wondered if it would go to voicemail and what that might mean: was Welbz blowing him off? Him, Robin van Persie, the Viscount of Vancester? Surely not! Then, just as the fourth ring sounded, Robin heard a voice, one wary and, it must be said, a bit irritated.
"Welbz!" Robin winced at the enthusiasm in his own voice. Dial it down, Rob. "Danny! How's it going?"
A silent pause followed, pregnant with portent and possibility. Robin took the phone from his ear and glanced at it to make sure the call hadn't been dropped.
"Hey." The voice was flat. Low. Devoid of emotion. "How're you doing?"
"Couldn't be better, y'know. Thanks, lad, for askin'". Pitch-perfect, he thought. Play it cool. Real mellow, like. "How are you feelin'? Big one on Sunday, right?"
"Yeh, it is. You gonna be able to play? I was hearing that you were injured again, and—"
"Oh, that again!" Robin's eyes darted around, scanning for eavesdroppers. "Welbzie, just between you and—"
"Robin. We've been over this. Please, don't call me 'Welbzie,' alright?"
"Hm? Oh, sure. Whatever. Anyway, like I was saying, I don't know if you'd really say that I'm 'injured,' so much as 'not interested.'
It was Welbeck's turn to take the phone from his ear and stare at the screen. Before he could respond, though, his counterpart continued.
"Look, mate, I've gotten mine. I won the Prem, I got the Golden Boot (again! BOOyah!), I got paid. What else is there? I mean, who else has won the Golden Boot twice in row? NO one, am I right?"
"Um, actually, Rob—"
"Dude, what is it?"
"Thierry Henry did it."
"Won the Golden Boot twice in a row. Three times, actually."
"Him? Okay, whatever. Did he ever score 30 goals in a season? I did that."
There was an awkward pause. Welbeck exhaled slowly, buying time before speaking again. "Look, Rob. I'm in the middle of something. What's up?"
"Welbzie, c'mon. We're both gamers. We know how the game is played, right? I'm feeling a bit knackered, what with international friendlies, Champions League, the FA Cup, and—"
"You've listed three things that literally don't exist in your life, mate. Add unicorns, a viable alternative to David Cameron, and the adulation of fans, and you're set."
"Whuh? What are you on about, mate? All I'm saying is I'm not sure I'm fully fit. Are you? The way I see it, both you and I are set. My club will qualify for Champions League play next season, and so will yours. Why exert any extra energy, then? You know as well as I do how much these so-called fans treat those who leave. Right? Right?"
Welbeck took a long, slow, deep breath before speaking. "There's a difference between us, mate." His voice dripped with sarcasm. "You bolted from a club that depended on you. I was jettisoned from a club that I believed in. Do you know what that word means, that word "believe?"
Robin recoiled as if slapped across the face.
"I have a chance, Rob, to again remind the Old Trafford faithful what they could have had: a player who believed in the club that shaped him, a player whom the fans would get behind." Despite his best intentions, Welbeck could feel the emotion in his voice. "Yeah, you got yours. You won the Prem. Good on you. Will those fans in Manchester remember you? I doubt it, mate; I sincerely doubt it." Welbeck waited for a response. Sensing none, he continued.
"I don't know if I'll play on Sunday. If I do, be forewarned: I plan to go at least one better than my last time through. If I don't, be forewarned again: it'll be because the physios insist that I can't. There's a difference between that and lame excuses for coming up lame." With that, Welbeck took the phone from his ear and clicked "end".