Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew believes that Wilfried Zaha shows all the classic signs of a player damaged by his time at Manchester United, but is now well on the way to exorcising those demons under his leadership at Selhurst Park.
Zaha was Sir Alex Ferguson's last major signing for United and arrived at Old Trafford in 2013 with genuine excitement to match a hefty £15 million pricetag, but never really got a look in and left having made just two Premier League appearances for the Red Devils.
The 22-year-old returned to Palace in the summer and made that loan switch permanent in February, but Pardew feels he's still got a long way to go before recapturing the fearsome form of his first spell in South London.
Zaha told to stop sulking
After watching Zaha have his best game for some time in Saturday's 3-0 win over Queens Park Rangers the Eagles boss made a point of highlighting flaws in the youngster's game that still need to be ironed out, with sulking one of them.
Pardew told the Daily Star: "There are two things with him; firstly, I don't see him smiling enough and secondly, he takes everything like a massive disappointment. Now that's a player who has been damaged.
"What I mean by that is if he doesn't get a pass, he can have a little sulk - not for long, just for a couple of seconds, but that's enough in the Premier League for something to happen.
"And he does it in training too. I'm saying this publicly because I think it's important that he understands that he needs to get rid of it.
Man United move a mis-step
Pardew also insisted that Zaha never got a fair shake at United, which is a line of thinking that is very difficult to disagree with when you consider just how sparingly he featured under David Moyes during the first half of last season.
"I think the Man United thing came too early for a young player who, let's be honest, didn't get enough of an opportunity there," Pardew claimed.
"He needs to get rid of it now and move on and build his career again."
Working with Pardew would seem to be the perfect tonic for Zaha at this stage of his career, with the England international starting six out of nine Premier League games since he took charge of the club.
Zaha is back among friends and definitely has a great opportunity to revive his career in South London, with the motivation to prove doubters wrong at United at beyond surely very high.
Man United fans, do you still find it strange that Zaha never got a chance at Old Trafford? Do you think he'll go on to become a leading Premier League player over the next few years? Let us know by having your say in the comment box below!
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