Wilfried Zaha was finally provided with a chance to impress during pre-season after two games of inactivity, with the young forward brought off the bench during Manchester United’s penalty victory over Inter Milan.
Zaha had been the only player not to have been used in a single minute of the US tour after the club’s first two encounters, against Los Angles Galaxy and Roma, which raised some doubts as to his future beyond this transfer window.
Louis van Gaal, however, moved to allay any fears Zaha’s Manchester United career could end before it had even begun in earnest, stating that the former Crystal Palace had been training well in the States.
Before the meeting with Inter, Van Gaal had revealed that he was considering Zaha to play as a central striker when the opportunity would arise, and this chance came in the second-half of the encounter against the Italian giants.
Zaha was moved inside from his more customary position on the flank, and produced enough in these 45 minutes to suggest he could become a player valued by the new Manchester United manager.
Trust at last?
This would represent quite a change from the previous head coach, with David Moyes having become thoroughly fed up of Zaha during his brief Old Trafford tenure.
Zaha, the last signing of the Sir Alex Ferguson era, made only two Premier League appearances under Moyes before he was sent out on loan to Cardiff City, and it seemed he would have no future as long as the former Everton manager remained in command.
It was a season of hardship for Zaha during his maiden campaign in Manchester, but Van Gaal’s appointment represents a new beginning, something the 21-year-old clearly recognises as he sets about forging a career with the club.
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A dig at Moyes?
Following his first appearance under Van Gaal, Zaha tweeted: “Keep faith no matter what!”
Was this a sly dig at Moyes? Perhaps so. But it is clear that Zaha is feeling optimistic about his prospects under the former Netherlands coach.
One 45 minute appearance in a friendly does not represent an indication that things will work out for Zaha at Manchester United, of course, but it is a start at least. It is down to him to build on these foundations laid, and prove he has the aptitude and dedication to thrive under the Dutchman.