Oct 30

Zaha’s first step towards the future

Tag: Opinion Piece @ 4:38 pm

web-zaha-gettyFrom the moment David Moyes replaced Sir Alex Ferguson in July, United fans have been told to lower their expectations, a mantra which has been repeated through the summer and during the first three months of the campaign.

And yet, despite the cries for a toned-down and humble approach, there have been a few moments in which we have begrudgingly allowed ourselves to get carried away with excitement. Marouane Fellaini’s debut and Adnan Januzaj’s first start for the club were both greeted with the mixture of curiosity and excitement that characterises potentially important moments, as was Wilfried Zaha’s debut last night.

Despite having not played a single competitive minute for the club, the former Palace man had become one of United’s saviour in the eyes of those who regularly suggest all the problems crippling the team would be almost instantaneously solved if only David Moyes was brave enough to play the 20-year-old alongside Shinji Kagawa.

Considering the price-tag – £15m are a sizeable investment for a 20-year-old, particularly for a player who has never featured in a Premier League team and particularly considering United’s well known parsimony –  and considering the appalling state of United’s options out wide, Moyes’ decision to systematically exclude Zaha had grown increasingly hard to understand.

Watching last night’s game, however, Moyes’ choice was partly justified, for while Zaha showed the change of pace and direct approach many Reds have been crying for over the last couple of seasons, the former Palace man showed that he remains very much a rough diamond in need of polishing.

The United manager had stressed the 20-year-old needs to refine some aspects of his game, his tactical diligence being arguably the most important of them. Against Norwich it was easy to see why, as Zaha was at times caught out of position when United surrendered possession, while other moments betrayed the rawness that still characterises him.

There were, however, plenty of positives too, as the former Palace man’s change of pace and ability to beat his man would have been heartwarmingly received by United fans watching the game who have had to endure Antonio Valencia’s mono-dimensional game, Nani’s inconsistence and Ashley Young’s tragic mediocrity for too long.

Even though many fans would love to see him starting more game and encouraging as Zaha’s debut was, it would be premature to expect him to be included on a regular basis.

The biggest critic many have directed at Moyes so far is that Zaha should be given as many opportunities as Adnan Januzaj, a perfectly sound logic one might say, but a rather flawed one at that.

For a start, having a blossoming teenager in the team doesn’t automatically guarantee other youngsters will develop at the same rate and secondly, while Januzaj could afford a couple of mistakes, Zaha’s hefty price-tag would attract a lot more scrutiny were the Crystal Palace man to struggle in his first outings.

David Moyes’ trophy cabinet might be still empty – as the media continue to point out – but the United manager has a proven record in developing youngsters, having nurtured the likes of Wayne Rooney, Jack Rodwell and Ross Barkley among the others. At Everton, Moyes had a smaller squad at his disposal, meaning players would have to be thrown in at the deep end of the pool, while since joining United he’s seemed to consider phasing his young players in a better option.

Moyes gave Januzaj his debut when he thought the young Belgian was ready to handle the big stage and he’s likely to do the same with Zaha for whom the wait for a Premier League game could soon be over.


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Tags: Opinion Piece

29 Responses to “Zaha’s first step towards the future”

  • Some very good points there. Moyes certainly has a track record of giving youth a chance and he has been bold and sensible enough in giving Januzaj his chance. For some reason though he has been more reluctant with Zaha particularly during a time when none of Valencia, Young or Nani have been all that impressive. Clearly Zaha needs games and, given time on the pitch, he will bring a freshness and excitement to the line up which none of the other aforementioned do. Seeing youngsters like Januzaj and Zaha performing well will give the team a big lift. I think Zaha gave glimpses of that last night but he was understandably rusty.

    • @Julian: If you ask Everton fans, many of them will tell you that Moyes does not put faith in youth. Barkley is playing for Everton more now than he was when Moyes was in charge.
      I wouldn’t be so quick to praise Moyes for playing Januzaj, it’s not as if he discovered him is it. Anyone with an ounce of football knowledge can tell you that Januzaj is going to be massive. Lets see the kind of kids he starts bringing in shall we before we praise him for using “our” best kids.
      Zaha’s mishandling is a massive indicator as to whether he trusts kids or not. Apparently he sees very little ability in Zaha, which is dumfounding for a manger at this level.
      Can he find a place for Lingard? Keane? Cole? Or will he buy overpriced muppets that block there progress.
      Time will tell.

      • @BigRed: Spot on.i was talking only last week to an Everton fan who said exactly the same thing. All this about moyes putting his faith in kids at Everton was a myth. He might originally blooded them but that’s as far as it went. Like you said, Ross Barkley is prime example.Regular now moyes has gone.

      • The_Philosopher

        @BigRed: Well said Big Red.

        Moyes doesn’t see much in Zaha.

        He doesn’t think much of Kagawa either.

        I really doubt this guy’s mental capacity to be coaching at this level.

    • The_Philosopher

      @Julian: Moyes is wrong for wasting so much time with Zaha.

      He is just wrong.

  • Everything you say about Zaha and his weaknesses could easily have been said about Ronaldo when he first came. That didn’t stop Fergie blooding him repeatedly while he built up his confidence and consistency. Ronaldo would not be the player he is today without the development he was afforded at United. Development that Zaha is being prevented from experiencing. Does he give the ball away? Yes, but so do most of our “established” players. Does he get caught out of position? Yup, but so do most of our more experienced players. Is he raw? Yes, but he’s effectively been frozen out of proceedings for a few months, hardly surprising. Whatever anyone says about Zaha’s frailty in certain areas doesn’t change the fact that he is clearly one of more exciting, skilful, brave and effective players. More deserving o a run of games for the sake of his development than players like Young, Nani, Valencia and Welbeck. who despite being already developed are woefully underperforming in most matches.

  • Was interested in the comments of his former coach at palace, George Burley. In his opinion a season lone could have a massive impact for zaha., citing the difference it made to Andros Townsend after his loan spell at QPR.Spurs are seeing the benefits now of him playing regular football at a decent level and im inclined to think that’s the best way forward for zaha.last night was a one off, so it’ll be back to reserves this week. He neads first team football at the moment and he’s not going to get it at utd, thats a fact, so a loan is probably the best option for all concerned.

    • The_Philosopher

      @THE RED BARON: I think Moyes is a poor manager if we end up loaning Zaha.

      With all the games we have on the calendar if he can’t get even a few of those then I don’t see Moyes as a particularly good manager.

      • @The_Philosopher: Problem is, if moyes doesn’t think he’s up to standard yet, he’s just gonna be dumped back in the stiffs.thats why I said, think the best way for him to progress is to be loaned out.its no good him playing once every ten games or so, he needs regular first team football and under moyes he’s not going to get that. The loan system has worked well for utd in the past and still is, so I think, as long as he’s sent to the correct club with the Wright manager, it can only be good for his progression.wright or wrong, moyes doesn’t think he’s ready, so like I said, just think it’s his best option.

  • What we need is inspiration and I don’t think we are going to get that from Valencia, Young or even Nani. The latter is the most talented but he is frustrating beyond the limit at times. He’s not really a team man – at least not consistently. This is why Moyes must play Zaha. By all means stick him on the bench to start with but let’s see him come on as much as possible. He has all the talent and will no doubt inspire and be part of the much needed upliftment which Januzaj is providing right now. We need to get excited about this team and stop playing the deadwood.

    • The_Philosopher

      @Julian:So true.

      Zaha is such a positive force right now.

      Why won’t Moyes patner him with Januzaj. (And even Kagawa #Pipedreams)

      We need to get excited again and play the youngsters. But Moyes in his most dubious wisdom thinks he knows better.


      • @The_Philosopher: I’m no champion of moyes, bu I don’t think he’s the only one who’s having problems with justifying his decision s.Take mourinho for example.they desperately needed reinforcements up front, yet he deemed it the best option to let one of the best young strikers around, lukaku, go on loan again and instead recruit an ageing eto’o.The same with coutois.they let stay on loan at Ath Madrid and recruit a 40+ mark scwartzer instead. So there’s not just moyes who mkes baffling decisions.

  • Willy Zaha needs to play more often.That’s the only way he will realise his full potential.Nani,Valencia and Young have been absolute shite over this past two years and don’t seem to be willing to change anytime soon.Here we have a guy than is hungry,talented and eager to play for United.What have we got to lose?Moyes took a chance on him against Norwhich,and if you ask me,Zaha didn’t do bad at all.Start him against Fulham and Sociedad.His confidence will grow and his abilities will slowly,but surely mature.Willy Zaha is a matchwinner and with Janujaz on the other flank,the grand ol days of flying United wingers delivering delicious crosses to our strikers may yet see return,one of these fine days.

    • The_Philosopher

      @Everton: Yes please!

      Bring on the good old days.

      Zaha and Januzaj deserve to be our first choice wingers.

      Moyes has no reason not to play them.


  • The_Philosopher

    I think that is utter rubbish. We have had 14 competitive games so far in all competitions and Zaha had a decent pre-season.

    To bench him and thus halt his progress for 13 of those games makes no sense what so ever.

    Of course he’s going to fumble and make mistakes and be caught out of position but thats what the coaching staff and post match video analysis is for.

    Zaha was not dragging the team down in pre-season, before the all wise David Moyes decided to bench him, rather he was a ray of light amidst a sea of uncertainty.

    I think that ray of light deserved a chance. Why snuff it out. Zaha isn’t that raw. He was adding value to our play already so to park him off for 13 games, given the poor performances we have seen from the so called first choice wingers, is stupid and overly cautious.

    I blame David Moyes.

    Zaha didn’t even get 10min cameos at the end of games. That doesn’t tell me that Moyes was protecting him or nothing.

    He just didn’t want to play him for whatever retarded reason.

    If Zaha had maybe even 5 of those 13 games under his belt now he would have improved and would be a better player than what we saw against Norwich.

    David Moyes is stuffing around if you ask me.

    Zaha was looking ready coming into the season. And Moyes cut him down. Now he is back and the same potential is still there.

    It’s like Paul Pogba all over again. What the heck are we waiting for. If Valencia and Nani are not setting the world on fire what else are we waiting for? Play the kids!

    What does a kid have to do to be taken seriously at this club?

    When Fergie’s young guns broke through they were raw as well. Hella talented but raw. But the difference is Ferguson was willing to work on them, play them and polish them.

    Playing Zaha is no more risky than playing Nani or Valencia.

    Moyes is wrong.

    (In my not so humble opinion)

  • The main issue with Zaha is his rawness. I personally would give him games, but not high profile ones and mainly use him as a substitute. I can see where Moyes is coming from, if you play a 4-4-2 system, you ideally need the wide men to track back. This isn’t in Zaha’s remit currently. He is also very immature and needs to develop mentally, but he is only 20 and will be given time to do so. Januzaj and Kagawa for me should be our first choice wingers/midfield players, with licence to roam inside. This with Carrick and another anchoring, this should have been Fellaini’s role next to him but the stupid haired Belgium looks somewhat unsure of what role he played in the side. With RvP and Rooney interchanging with the Japanese and young Belgium this looks exciting, with some creativity which has been lacking.
    Moyes has two big months coming up. I am trying not to knee jerk with him, but at times its hard not to. We had the greatest manager ever for over 26 years, ant change would be difficult. We also do not want to be a Chelsea or a City keep chop and changing as we simply financially cannot afford to do so. Moyes does see to be learning and at United it is in the direct spot light of our smug, build them up to knock them down media. some will not give him time, but Xmas is looming fast and if we are in the top 4, still in all cups I will be happy.

    • The_Philosopher

      @Stephen: You are a Manchester United fan.

      I disagree about Zaha’s rawness and immaturity meaning that he must be used sparingly.

      I don’t think playing a raw immature player is worse than playing the experienced underperformers.

      Ofcourse he’s raw. Lets role with the punches and get him up to speed as soon as possible.

      And thats not gonna happen parking him on the bench.

    • @Stephen: I hear what you are saying but “tracking back” should not be a priority for wingers in a team which purports to be an attacking one. If you have two mobile holding midfielders then they should be able to help cover for wing backs caught upfield when the opposition counter attacks. I don’t think Zaha is quite as “raw” as some make out. He may be only 20 but he’s already had international experience including 2 full international caps. Having said that, right now he needs game time due to the fact that he’s featured so little this season. I hope we now see a lot more of him and that the idea of sending him out on loan is abandoned. The club, the team and the fans need an injection of fresh blood and not just rely on the deadwood to try and grind out results.

      • The_Philosopher

        @Julian: Thank you Julian. Finally someone who speaks some sense!!!

        A winger’s first job is to attack and Zaha has got that down pat.

        Also if we are a geniune attacking threat our opponents will be too busy trying to put out fires in their own area rather than figuring out ways to penetrate our defense.

        And agian I agree. Deadwood OUT!!! New blood IN!!!!

  • Don’t ger me wrong, I see where Moyes is coming from, but I don’t agree.
    Ronaldo was aslo very raw and immature, but Fergie gave him games. As I say, personally I would give him games and time to develop. Nani for me is very overrated, Young is useless, but Valencia has something to offer. For me Januzaj, Kagawa and Zaha should be the first choice wingers. This with using Nani and Vally in certain games, Young can leave.

  • I actually support Moyes on this matter. Januzaj is a special case. He is one of those rare once in a generation talents that seems to have been born to play football. Just like Sharpe and Giggs and Ronaldo before him.

    There is no rush with Zaha. He has played Championship football so a move to another Premier League club wouldn’t block his development as long as he got games. In fact I don’t know why we didn’t loan him to Palace for the season.

    Nani has not been good this season but I think it is worth giving him games because if we can get Nani back to his best we will have one more world class player. Valencia I would use as back up for Rafael as we cannot keep playing Smalling as a right back.

  • Philosopher, Januzaj already looks like a fixture on the left wing.

    Nani was poor last season but I refuse to believe he has become a bad player overnight and with regular games and the faith of the manager (which he never had under Ferguson) I think he could get back to his best.

    Personally I link the poor form of our wingers last season to the signing of Van Persie who is not your traditional striker who gets on the end of crosses and prefers it through the middle. Yet rather than accommodating him by encouraging our wingers to cut in Ferguson persisted with our overly wide formation.

    We have already seen this season from Kagawa and Januzaj that disobeying orders and cutting inside can yield dividends and Moyes needs to be smart enough to encourage that.

    With Januzaj and Nani as our main wingers it is better we have Valencia and Kagawa as back up. Zaha doesn’t need time on the bench he needs games so a loan move looks perfect for him.

    The Pogba comparison isn’t valid because he was way better than Zaha is now and also his contract issues meant we had to push him on ahead of schedule just as we wisely did with Januzaj.

    Zaha is on a long term contract with us and after being a flat track bully in the Championship he needs a sterner test in the Premier League and a loan is the best way to achieve that.

    • The_Philosopher

      @colver: I see where you’re coming from.

      But I disagree.

      For the sake of Nani we could sacrifice Zaha.

      But Zaha is ready to go right now. He doesn’t need to be loaned out.

      This is in my opinion the best formation for our first team:

      ————————–De Gea





      I would be building the team around this kind of setup.

      It’s a different midfield but it can work with the talent of Kagawa and Januzaj being supported by the proven awesomeness of RVP and Nani.

      Zaha on the right won’t hurt either.

      Jones is growing into a decent little midfielder himself. He should take one for the team this season and play in that space infront of the back 4.

      The 3 man midfield of Kagawa, Januzaj and Jones has lots of potential and has to be tried.

      Zaha, RVP and Nani could benefit richly from the passing and creativity inherent in this line up.

      • @The_Philosopher: The partnership of Rooney and RVP must be allowed more time to develop so both must play. On recent form (incl. last season) Carrick must play too but I like the idea of Jones developing into a ball winning holding midfielder. At present it is a toss up between him and Cleverly for that role. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Evans play on the right side – he normally deputises for Vidic. Maybe this doesn’t matter which is just as well because he is our next best CB behind Vidic (if you consider Rio as good as finished). I don’t think Buttner is in the same class as Evra and probably wont ever be – indeed, expect another attempt to sign Baines in January. I would play either Zaha or Nani and allow Januzaj a roving commission. Unfortunately this leaves no room for Kagawa. He can deputise for Rooney or Januzaj though.

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