Connect with us

Transfer Rumours

Do United need Zaha or do they simply want him?

1In the movie Love Actually, Alan Rickman’s secretary and lover addresses her boss’ question as to what she’d like for Christmas with a sharp, conclusive reply: “I don’t want something I need,” she says, “I want something I want.”

If you’ll excuse the excursus in the romantic-comedy branch of British cinematography, you’ll find that the quote is United’s policy in the transfer window in a nutshell.

Since the arrivals of Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic seven years ago, we have become accustomed to watch the January transfer window pass us by with the same interest with whom we would witness a pub brawl – casting the odd glance every now and again while focusing on whatever we’re reading and praying that the fight doesn’t degenerate to the extent where actions might be required of us.

In recent years United have never found themselves in the position where they’d need to recruit reinforcements for the remainder of the campaign – big clubs are always reluctant to alter the team’s chemistry in Janurary, let Alan Pardew and Harry Redknapp trade blows in a bid to sign a player from every club in the French top division.

This month, though, United have been feverishly active for their standards as they look to conclude a deal for English football’s next “Big Thing” – an accolade that was, I believe, established when Michael Owen scored against Argentina in 1998 and that has seen its fair share of pretenders – Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha, which bring us to the opening statement of wanting not something that’s needed, but something that’s wanted.

United have already three wingers in the squad – the average but dependable Ashley Young, by many considered not worth of a United shirt, the occasionally superb Nani who shares a knack for petulant diving with his team-mate and who has also allegedly been seeking a move to the warmer climate that is traditional of Saint Petersburg. Last but by no means least, we have Antonio Valencia, a case in study in the relationship between a player’s ability and his confidence.

None of the players mentioned above have enjoyed a great season so far, Young and Nani have been blighted by injuries and Valencia has been a shadow of the player he had developed into last season when he had looked the first out-and-out winger the club had possessed since Andrei Kanchelskis had spent the early 90s hugging the right touch-line.

Based on these arguments, Zaha’s purchase would seem a very shrewd piece of business, particularly considering that  the Palace man, voted The Football League’s Young Player of the Year last season, has already scored five goals and assisted six this season, as Ian Holloway’s side push for a return to the top flight.

But the arrival of Zaha would almost surely mean that one between Young, Valencia and Nani would be kindly asked to collect his belongings and find himself a new club, which would leave United short of one player with international experience, in favour of an exciting, but largely unproven, prospect.

Sir Alex Ferguson is obviously not desperate to sign Zaha, otherwise he wouldn’t have offered Palace the option of retaining the player until the end of the season, should a deal been sealed, and neither has hinted at the eventuality of one of his three wingers being sold, which is perhaps the most chilling sub-plot in this scenario.

The last time United had an abundance of wide players was in the 2009-10 season when Nani, Valencia, Obertan, Tosic, Giggs – yes, back then he was still considered a part-time winger – and Park were on the books, which led to players deployed out of position – Park – and youngsters dismissed without having had a real shot at establishing themselves in the first team – Tosic and Obertan being the most notable casualties.

Zaha might be extremely more talented than both of them, after all he’s an England international as the media haven’t relentlessly reminded us over the last few weeks, conveniently overlooking the fact that Wilfried spent a grand total of seven minutes on the pitch for England.

Considering that the 20-year-old has also attracted interest from Liverpool, Spurs and Arsenal (sorry Arsene, we’re not buying it) though, do United really need Zaha or are they simply trying to prevent rival clubs from signing him? Presumably, we’ll find out the outcome in the next eight days.

Dan (@MUFC_dan87)




  1. Afzal J Khan

    January 23, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    I find your article very contradictory. You rightly explain all the problems encountered by United wit the three wingers and hinting that maybe the chase for Zaha is justified to finally say that the arrival of Zaha would mean the departure of an experienced winger – whoever of the three ! In French we say: ” Vous ne pouvez pas avoir le beurre et l’argent du beurre “. In other words if you want to eat the banana you need to peel it! If an experienced player cannot be replaced by an exciting up and coming youngster then all teams should go for the Van Persies, Demba Bas etc… Valencia has been totally useless so far this season except against City when his defensive contribution was critical. In any case, I have never rated Valencia as a winger as he cannot dribble, cannot deliver accurate crosses, is scared to shoot, has a useless left foot. To me his defensive contribution far outweighs his attacking play. Fortunately he has Rafael behind him who helps him a lot up front. On the other hand although Zaha is not the finished article yet he will create havoc on the wing by the variety of tricks that he’s got up his sleeve. In short I am very pleased that Fergie is pushing for his signature. As for his stay with Palace till the end of the season it looks like it is a condition that has been imposed by his club. Nothing new as N Powell and C Smalling as well stayed with their respective club till the end of the season!

  2. Redrich

    January 24, 2013 at 3:00 am

    He is either a great bargain or another bust. I have my suspicions when United buy on the cheap and with good reason. In the recent past we have seen a stream of “good bargains” from lower leagues and lower divisions, and watch them crash under the pressure of the OT spotlight.
    If we need a winger (which I believe we do) then go get a bona fide performer that can help the team with an immediate impact. If you want to develop someone for the future, then get a prospect at the same time and cultivate his development with the view of having him start in due course.
    I know very little about Zaha so I cannot say whether he will be good for us or not, but once again, we seem to be rattling a jar of loose change instead of wielding some financial clout.
    Penny wise and Pound foolish just gives you whole lot of Pennies (is there any way to use Pennies any more?).

  3. Redrich

    January 24, 2013 at 3:58 am

    Always nice to see our overpaid idols treat the help like stray dogs.

    Someone needs to tell Edin Hazard that you don’t kick the ball when there’s a boy on top of it, and furthermore, the boy might be a tad bit more important than the said ball.
    Can you believe it??? 😯 😯 😯

    • The_Philosopher

      January 24, 2013 at 9:10 am

      @Redrich: What was that kid doing with the ball in the first place? Hazard was on his way to get it himself so the services of a ball boy weren’t required in that instance. He is a Swansea fan and he was getting in Hazard’s way deliberately.

      Hazard shouldn’t have kicked him but the kid was crossing the line.

      Leave Edin Hazard alone.

    • Ian

      January 24, 2013 at 9:23 am

      Bollocks mate.

      The kid is the issue here, Hazard’s done what anyone would’ve. He tried to release the ball, if he’d took a mega swing at him yes over the top but he didn’t, he used minimum force against a prat who found out he isn’t as clever or smart as he thought.

      Adults need to recapture this world and stop protecting unruly kidsfrom consequences of their stupid actions. He’s learned a lesson ladt night with no harm done. Exactly how it should be.

    • Opti

      January 24, 2013 at 11:54 am

      @Redrich: Generally, I would agree with you that overpaid idols tend to treat help like stray dogs… but not here. When I first heard of it, I was thinking about Cantona’s kick. But after watching it, I cannot feel sympathetic for the “kid” (isn’t he 16 or so???).

      He rolled on the ball and teased Hazard. Hazard made the mistake of not gesturing to the refereee… and instead getting the ball from the kid himself. I doubt the kid will be ball boy anymore after this… and I think that highlights how the blame should be shared.

    • Redrich

      January 24, 2013 at 7:26 pm

      @Redrich: I disagree with all your sentiments here. A grown man kicking out at a boy, whether the boy was “unruly” or not, is both brutish and disconnected from real social responsibility.
      How anyone can back Hazard for his actions is beyond comprehension to me. Lets give him a nice pat on the back for his thoughtful handling of the situation – as for the boy – strap him up and give him 20 lashes.
      Hello, welcome to the 19th century!

      • Ian

        January 25, 2013 at 9:06 am

        Rich, there’s a maasive difference between a brutish kick and doing what you need to do to release a ball from a prat who’s playing silly fuckers in a multi-million pound business.

        The kid had a job to do, he chose not to do it and found out what the consequences are…..lesson learnt with no damage whatsoever done to him no matter what kind of puppy dog face he tried to pull to suggest otherwise.

        If Hazard had really wanted to hurt him, kick him or take out any kind of frustration on him then surely you must see that there’d be far more contact, a bigger swing of the leg and he would probably have repeated it.

        Fact is, the ball popped out and that was that. If any kid anywhere in the world lies on a ball to stop someone else getting it I guarantee the exact same result occurs. Hazard, although not a kid is still only 5yrs older than the ballboy so for me ages don’t even come into it. If someone did it to me who was my age I’d do exactly the same thing too and I’m 38!

        The kids actions are the issue not the natural reaction of Hazard. Benitez rarely gets any praise from me but he lost it with the media yesterday telling them that both kid and Hazard got together, both apologised and that was that……put them in their place for overhyping a nothing incident.

        Why do the media need headlines like ‘Beast of Eden’? Really? Beast? For what? Fuck sake they barely use words like that for rapists and serial killers, talk about ‘blown out of proportion’.

        • Redrich

          January 25, 2013 at 9:31 pm

          @Ian: Mate, the difference is the severity between the two acts in question.
          The boy committed the most …err, heinous of all things possible in the game of Football, he …err, wasted time, perhaps even cheated a little.
          Hazard, on the other hand, acting like …err a true professional and …err a responsible adult, decides that the very best course of action was to extricate the ball at all costs. After all getting the ball back in play was far more imperative than the well being of the boy.
          What you (and many others, I might add) are saying is that the boy deserved his treatment and perhaps more and to me that seems unfathomable.
          Hazard’s actions were exponentially out of proportion to the boy’s misdemeanors and that is why the FA (and perhaps other governing bodies) will seek penalties that are also disproportionate to the simple act of trying to get on with the game.
          Hazard should have thought about what he was doing, but lets face it, that doesn’t seem to be in the skill set of most professional athletes

        • Ian

          January 25, 2013 at 10:58 pm

          The problem is Rich, imo there was no ‘treatment’ to speak of.

  4. The_Philosopher

    January 24, 2013 at 9:52 am

    Our wing situation needs immediate attention.

    I don’t know if we need Wilfried Zaha but we certainly need a right wing alternative to Valencia. And Zaha is the player being fronted to help fill that gap right now.

    Nani should be it but the internal politics between him and Sir Alex along with his irratic form keeps spoiling his chances of playing.

    Antonio Valencia is coming to the end of his golden years so we need a young deputy to fill the gaps when he’s off form and to learn from him while he still has something to offer the squad.

    We have three wingers in the squad right now but our wing play this season has been rubbish and lacking in effectiveness.

    We have little to no service from the wings. And when we do get some good balls into the box from the wings they have come from Patrice Evra for the most part. Rooney had a nice assist from the right on one occasion and van Persie has put in an assist or two from the left flank.

    Young, Nani and Valencia, our three designated wide men, have contributed very little on the wings this season.

    Injury has obviously played its role as well, but we need to freshen up the situation in the wing department regardless.

    I say we should sell Ashley Young because he is soooooooo average. Buy a good right winger -Wilfried Zaha in this case, for lack of a better option- and a good left footed left winger -James Rodriguez or another quality option.

    This would leave us with Zaha and Valencia rotating on the right and Rodriguez and Nani Covering the left wing. Nani can play in any of the forward positions in my opinion.

    Nani can be a striker (no.9) or he can play in the number 10 position thats being contested by Rooney and Kagawa. And Nani can play wide right, which he prefers, or wide left where he is more than capable of producing quality performances.

    He is that talented and versatile that we should just keep him in the squad as an attacking back up.

    If Zaha and Valencia can’t do a job on the right we still have Nani to fall back on.

    The wing line up I would want is this:

    Lw: James Rodriguez, Nani and Giggs

    Rw: Valencia and Zaha

    I would be very happy with this wing department.

  5. Racs

    January 24, 2013 at 11:31 am

    Lads, looks like the Zaha deal will be completed within next 48 hours. BBC and Sky Sports have confirmed that he has signed a 5 and half year deal and is set to undergo a medical within the next couple of days! Seems like a £10million deal rising to £15mill depending on appearances and achievements.

    The lad looks like a good prospect. I mean he does look very raw at the moment but I feel that with the right coaching and guidance he could turn into a top player!

    A true wide player with skill and ability in abundance, he’s quick, isn’t afraid to take on defenders and seems to have a neat touch. Also looks like he doesn’t mind getting stuck in!

    Considering that our current wide players are either one dimensional, out of form or in the dog house, what are your views on this signing? Our style of play has always been direct, quick and generally on the counter utilising width at every opportunity possible so do you think he would fit our style?

  6. Opti

    January 24, 2013 at 11:55 am

    I am as delighted about Zaha as I was about Buttner… provide competition to our aging playing and they will improve or be sold. Look at Evra, who is better this year than last 3 combined.

    I like it Za-ha Za-ha…

    • The_Philosopher

      January 24, 2013 at 12:35 pm

      @Opti: Za Ha ha ha?

      Cheezy! 😛

  7. The_Philosopher

    January 25, 2013 at 10:06 am

    We’re gonna need Nani to be on form for the Real game.

    Valencia needs to find his form as well. Real are gonna be a tough test.

    My prefered line up for that game.

    St (no.9): Robin van Persie

    Am (no.10): Wayne Rooney

    Lw: Nani

    Cm: Tom Cleverley (or an in form Anderson)

    Cm: Michael Carrick

    Rw: Antonio Valencia

    Lb: Patrice Evra

    Cb: Nemanja Vidic

    Cb: Rio Ferdinand

    Rb: Rafael

    Gk: David De Gea

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Transfer Rumours