We have heard managers say they were going home to kick the dog after a defeat, in the old days. At Manchester United, this saying has become a reality as the manager David Moyes refused to start the £15m winger Wilfried Zaha once again in an Under-21 fixture against Middlesbrough at the AJ Bell Stadium in Salford on Monday evening. We all know, the manager doesn’t fancy him as much as we’d have liked him to, but starting him on the bench in an Under-21 game is an insult to his ability. When the fans thought they had just bought an exciting young potential waiting to take center-stage in Wilfried Zaha, David Moyes seems to have had different plans for the winger. Plans that might kill his career at Manchester United.
What does Moyes want from his wide-men? We have seen his Everton team, play high-tempo pressing football especially the four in the middle, a tactic which is purely based on pressurizing the opponent a.k.a not allowing the opponents the space thereby winning the ball and attack against the run of play. This might as well explain his preference of a more physically robust/built Valencia to other wingers in Nani and Wilfried Zaha – players who could certainly cross the balls in, with better accuracy than Valencia. Zaha might not provide what he exactly wants from his wide-men but then, the obvious question is, ‘Isn’t football all about scoring goals that win games?’ Why waste a potentially good signing on the bench and later whine about the supposed lack of quality?
Despite an encouraging start to Zaha’s United career – he excelled against Sevilla in Rio Ferdinand’s testimonial, for example – he has made just three first-team appearances. That’s not on. He is a soft target, easy to punish as Moyes works out what the hell he is going to do to save United’s season. By anyone’s standards, it’s not fair to punish a 21-year-old kid.
Before anyone thinks I’m completely biased towards Wilfried Zaha, let me tell you, I’m not. There are a few things which many of the fans may/may not know about the boy, who’s not ‘the’ model professional yet.
When he received his first call into England’s Under 19 squad, Palace had to courier his boots to the training ground. Zaha didn’t realise they wouldn’t be supplied. After signing a five-year contract with Manchester United in January last year, he turned up at Selhurst Park in a new car for practically every home game. Earning £35,000 a week, he could do what he wanted. When the Palace players told him he wouldn’t get away with turning up late for training at Carrington or back-chatting the boss, he told them he would tow the line. At times, Palace despaired of him but they cut him some slack because he was young. But behavior aside, he was the player that made the difference for Crystal Palace in so many of them fixtures in the Championship, which cannot be denied.
Granted, this hardly is how a professional at a club like Manchester United should behave, but when have Manchester United been all about signing model professionals by the way? Moyes though, might have dropped a subtle hint on how he expects his players to feel towards playing for this football club by saying,
‘Maybe players wants to go for the money to other clubs, but if you asked them where they really wanted to be, what club they’d really like to wear the badge of, they want to wear the badge of Manchester United.’