Football

Wilfried Zaha destined to be Ferguson's greatest signing

Zaha was Ferguson's last signing. (©GettyImages)
Zaha was Ferguson's last signing. (©GettyImages).

Sir Alex Ferguson's final signing as Manchester United manager came in January 2013 in the form of Wilfried Zaha, who joined the English Champions for a fee reported to be around £15million. 

The youngster was immediately loaned back to his previous club Crystal Palace in order for him to contribute to their promotion charge and never played under Ferguson.

Zaha, following the retirement of the long-serving Manchester United manager, joined up with David Moyes' first team on the pre-season tour to Asia and Australia, making quite an impact in his first outings in the red of Manchester United. 

He has shown himself to be comfortable when in possession as well as illustrating a desire to take defenders. It is this old fashioned wing-play that has really endeared him to the majority of Manchester United supporters even at this early stage in his Old Trafford career.

Whilst last season was very successful with the Premier League crown being taken back from fierce rivals Manchester City, it also served as a reminder of certain weaknesses within the squad.

Since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo in the summer of 2009 Manchester United have lacked a genuine out-and-out exciting wide midfielder. 

Ashley Young and Nani are very similar players in the sense that they prefer to cut back inside and look for either the shot or a clever reverse pass to a player in the penalty area rather than beating a defender. 

Antonio Valencia, the other Manchester United winger, has struggled to regain the confidence of taking a man on since his horror injury suffered against Rangers in the Champions League in 2010.

The main problem with the three wingers United had in their squad last season was the apparent lack of consistency within all their respective seasons. 

Ashley Young dipped in and out of form with his best performance of the season coming in December in the 3-2 win at Eastlands following a frustrating run of fruitless performances. 

Nani struggled with injuries for a lot of the campaign but again found his consistency hampered by having to keep swapping between a position on the left wing and a position on the right wing with his best performance of the season arguably coming in the second leg of the European Cup tie against Real Madrid before his rather unfortunate dismissal courtesy of Cuneyt Cakir. 

Finally Antonio Valencia frustrated a significant number of supporters last season with his newfound tendency to make an initial run down the line and then cut back on himself and pass the ball back to Rafael at right back rather than take on a defender with it appearing to be a longstanding fear of making let's say risky forward runs following his aforementioned injury.

Zaha is a completely different entity to the trio of Young, Nani and Valencia. He is quick and relies on this pace heavily in order to burst past defenders and get into a crossing position and like a certain former Manchester United number seven 

Zaha could eventually end up using this pace to reinvent himself as a centre forward. He  also has a box of tricks with the former-Palace man having stepovers and the rest all in his arsenal and these skills have all been on show during the pre-season tour where Zaha has given defences a really tough time. 

As well as all his obvious on the pitch talents, Zaha also seems like a genuine, down to earth young footballer. 

Gone is the self assured persona of a year ago, which led to comments suggesting only Ronaldo and Messi were better than him. This has been replaced by a quiet, unassuming individual who seems genuinely in awe of just where he is now playing football, there seems a real determination to work hard and make his transfer to Manchester United work which has been made clear in Zaha's sharp insistences that he didn't want to be loaned out yet again. 

With this hardworking attitude in tow as well as his talents as a footballer then in my opinion the sky really is the limit for Wilfried Zaha.

He, unlike so many young promising footballers before him, has moved to the right football club at the right time. Manchester United has always given youth a chance with every matchday squad featuring at least one home-grown player for the last seventy-five years. 

Zaha will get his chance to develop at a club who pride themselves on developing young talents be it from the club's own academy or other English clubs. 

Secondly Zaha is joining Manchester United at a time where they are at their weakest in terms of depth and quality in the wide areas for a number of years. 

The cornerstone of Manchester United's initial attacking football under Sir Alex Ferguson was the 4-4-2 with two blisteringly quick wingers on either side, from Andrei Kanchelskis to Lee Sharpe to Ryan Giggs right through to Cristiano Ronaldo, every great Manchester United side under Sir Alex Ferguson has featured wingers of a high quality and Wilfried Zaha could be the next to join that illustrious list.

Manchester United and in particular David Moyes have recognised Zaha's talent very early on and have already moved to ensure he develops in the best possible environment at Old Trafford. 

Ryan Giggs, a man with a wealth of experience at the top level from his teenage years, has been entrusted with the task of guiding Wilfried Zaha through his early period with the English Champions. 

Zaha undoubtedly will be given game-time this year and depending on his early performances he could find himself to be a key member of David Moyes' squad much earlier than most expected. 

Sir Alex Ferguson, who made it a significantly important objective to secure the signature of the winger before Arsenal could get the player, could well prove to be one of the Scot's greatest ever acts. Zaha has all the attributes in place to become a mainstay in a successful Manchester United side for years to come.


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Topics:
Wilfried Zaha
Premier League
Football
Crystal Palace
Manchester United

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