It’s been another wasted weekend for Wilfried Zaha.
When Manchester United spent a fee that will rise to £15million for his services last January most of us didn’t expect him to be a regular starter.
But surely we envisioned him having more game time to his name than the paltry 167 minutes out of a possible 2970 yielded so far.
From being one of the Championship’s stand-out performers last season for Crystal Palace – who would unlikely be where they are today if it weren’t for him – to being deemed worthy of only one start in that most experimental of competitions, the League Cup.
It’s pretty obvious that manager David Moyes doesn’t think much of him at the moment otherwise he would be brought on as an impact substitute more often at least. And it’s not as if the Red Devils have been firing on all cylinders this campaign. If they had then this state of affairs with the already internationally capped Zaha would be understandable, but it makes the situation even more telling.
The same player who tore teams to shreds last season would have made a more than reasonable contribution to proceedings in the all-too frequent games where United have lacked urgency even when they are trailing.
The second tier it may have been, but the pace and ability he displayed would have caused problems for numerous Premier League defenders, particularly when their legs are tiring in the latter stages of a match.
It’s probably been a shock to the system to the young man who turned out for England’s senior side in late 2012.
Here is a player who was the most talked about prospect in English football as recently as last summer, even more than the likes of Ross Barkley and Ravel Morrison; which gets me to my point. Former United starlet Morrison has been a bit quiet of late – on and off the pitch – but if there’s an issue with Zaha’s attitude (which, one way or another, there must be; either acting petulantly, not working hard enough or both), then the sale of Morrison to West Ham United for these very same reasons seems a bad piece of business from the hierarchy at Old Trafford.
At the present time they have swapped one difficult player for another, and will have lost a few million at least if the respective situations carry on.
They are reported to be getting paid £25,000 for every game Morrison plays for West Ham, so by my reckoning, that’s around £400,000 so far compared to the £15million that will be spent on Zaha.
One thing is for certain: the Hammers have got far more out of Morrison than United have with Zaha. The former would have provided Moyes’ side with some much-needed bite and flair had he been wearing the famous red shirt during those toothless games that the Red Devils lost.
As we have seen with much of Alex Ferguson’s activity in the transfer market in the last ten years or so, even he cannot predict what players are going to come good. And as I mentioned earlier, Zaha’s lack of game time is even more startling when you consider how many of the players who have been picked by Moyes have under-performed.
Psychology affects what one does physically on the pitch, so is it more of a mental thing with Zaha? Is he showing the ability on the training ground, but lacking discipline in certain areas of his game and in his life? Will he get his chance when the inevitable exodus occurs at Old Trafford in the summer?
There is just under half a season left, so there’s still a lot of time for him to show he was worthy of the hype bestowed upon him by the increasingly fickle football world that we indulge ourselves in. For the good of the sport United and England fans will be hoping that is the case.
Manchester United fans: Who would you rather have in your side, Zaha or Morrison? Leave your comments below.