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Why Wilfried Zaha deserves Manchester United’s benefit of doubt

Recent reports suggest that Manchester United look set to offload England U21 International Wilfried Zaha, with Newcastle United currently atop the list of an array of suitors.

The Ivory Coast born winger who was Sir Alex Ferguson’s final buy before his retirement moved for £10 million from Crystal Palace and has since found first team opportunities hard to come by, hence the speculation of a move.

The Player who grew up in the Crystal Palace Academy and was voted the Football League Young Player of the Year in 2012, first caught Manchester United’s attention when he impressed in a League Cup game between both sides and after a couple of more impressive performances, Sir Alex was convinced enough to splash the cash, much in the same way Cristiano Ronaldo was snapped up from Sporting Lisbon after impressing against the Old Trafford Club.

Upon his subsequent loan back to Crystal Palace, Zaha was instrumental in the Eagles’ promotion to the Premier League since 2004/2005, thus arriving at Old Trafford in buoyant mood and ready for the next phase of his development at Manchester United. First up was Pre-Season with the Red Devils’ tour of the Far East where he excelled alongside Adnan Januzaj and Jesse Lingard.

Hoping to build on this, he was included in the line-up against Wigan in the Community Shield after which he was restricted to just 2 appearances for the club before being sent out on loan to Cardiff City to work with former Manchester United player and Reserves Manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but he failed to make much of an impact in his 10 appearances, while the club was also relegated.

Following from the above, I’m sure many will agree with me that any decision to unlade Zaha will be hasty on United’s part and unfair to the player considering the fact that he has spent just one half of a season at the club and made merely two appearances, which is clearly not enough grounds to moot his sale . All this while taking into cognizance the reality that there is presently a dearth of top quality wingers at the club with Manchester United being stuck with the trio of Luis Nani, Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young. Of course, Zaha is not yet a top quality winger but he can definitely do no worse than the above three who mustered a paltry number of four goals and four assists in 60 Premier League appearances last season.

In summation to that, Anderson and Nani have spent approximately seven years at the club and on countless occasions have they flattered to deceive to the extent that they are now termed in some quarters as being ‘consistently inconsistent’. If Manchester United continue to persevere with both players after years of inept performances despite several last chance saloons, how much more Wilfried Zaha, a prodigiously talented youngster who has not had a quarter of the chances both players have had.

Yes! You might say he failed to light up a club such as Cardiff City but bear in mind that this was only his first season in the Premier League and as such should be entitled to the benefit of doubt to prove himself of Manchester United quality. Sir Alex himself who signed him would have known that it would take at least two years before he comes good with consistent performances.

And you just never know, with the imminent arrival of Van Gaal to polish and refine the rough edges of his game, that could yet be the trampoline from which his career lifts off.

This article was written by Michael Sogbolu, who is part of our Academy writing team. Please make your comment on this article if you agree or disagree with the comments raised in this article.

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