Wilfried Zaha was touted by many as the next Cristiano Ronaldo. Granted he didn't exactly use those words himself, but the positive sentiment expressed on Zaha's main assets are the same as the ones expressed about Ronaldo - namely searing pace, immense dribbling skill and the ability to single-handedly change games.
While it is also wise to keep in mind that similar statements were made about both perennial underachiever Nani and Old Trafford flop Bebe, something about Zaha seems different. The explanation might be as simple as the mere fact that Zaha is already well adjusted to the English game.
Zaha enters United at the same age Nani did, but it seems abundantly clear to most United fans that Nani hasn't lived up to his immense potential. Why give him a new multi-million pound contract? Only manager David Moyes knows and maybe he sees something that we do not. In my mind, however, it is clear that Zaha should be given real consideration.
Let us start with the facts. Last season, Antonio Valencia had one goal and five assists whereas Nani got one goal and two assists. Last and quite possibly least, Ashley Young garnered no goals and three assists. Between these three, they managed a total of two goals and ten assists. It doesn't take a particularly educated football coach to tell you that those figures are abysmal.
Add in the fact that Zaha single-handedly managed eight goals and nine assists alone, and anyone who understands how numbers work will be scratching his or her head. True, Zaha played in a lesser league, but that doesn't excuse the incompetence of the former three. Because of his immense contributions to the team as a whole, I am willing to excuse Valencia.
The Ecuadorian is the most consistent of the aforementioned three and always gives his all for the team. Nani, on the other hand, is often caught on the halfway line while opposition is bearing down on goal. And don't even get me started on Young. In terms of numbers, Zaha has a clear edge.
What is even more pathetic is that it is wholly possible that Zaha is currently the best dribbler on United's teamsheet. Young can't beat a marker and Nani does so about once every five games. Once again I am willing to excuse Valencia because he does constantly beat his marker - but that's due mainly to his pace.
Zaha blazes past marker after marker. Does he get caught up? Yes but more often than not, he goes beyond his man. There is a grave lack of unpredictability in the current squad. Their tactic is jaded - wide to Valencia, beat the man on the outside, cross to Robin van Persie. Zaha would add much-needed unpredictability to the squad.
While Zaha's final ball isn't as great as fans would like, again the record of his competition makes him look legendary by comparison. Which United fan doesn't groan when Nani steps up to take a corner, let alone his shots? Young isn't good enough to engineer the space to create these chances and Valencia's ratio of hits to misses is abysmal.
Zaha may not be the best, but he sure is better than what United have already got. Even Ryan Giggs, an absolute legend, isn't the player he used to be. Why Moyes starts him game after game, only god knows. Zaha is the way forward.
Sir Alex Ferguson put his faith in Ronaldo to step into the shoes of a true legend - David Beckham. Ronaldo repaid that faith with three Premier League crowns and a Champions League trophy. Zaha has the potential to replicate his Portuguese predecessor.
Fergie might be gone but United will live on and Zaha can be the key to future success. It's time to bench Nani and get Young out of the team for good. Give Zaha the chance and he will shine. It is time to make way for United's future - and if given a chance, that future could be very bright.
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