Christmas time is meant to be a time of good will between all men, but this is sadly unlikely to extend to the dormant relationship between David Moyes and Wilfried Zaha.
Since the former Crystal Palace winger arrived at Old Trafford in the summer for a fee that could reach up to £15 million, he has been strangely frozen out by Moyes.
So far this season, Zaha has started just one game (against Norwich City in the Capital One Cup) and been given only two substitute appearances in the Premier League against Newcastle United and Aston Villa, amounting to a mere 28 minutes.
Zaha seems to have already been dismissed as not good enough and out of his depth.
However, it is impossible to judge a player without giving him a proper opportunity, and so far, Zaha has been denied that.
He has either been left in the stands or thrown scraps at the end of games. Zaha deserves better than that.
This is a player Sir Alex Ferguson—arguably the greatest judge of young players in the history of the game—deemed worthy of investing £15 million in less than a year ago.
During his 26-and-a-half years at Old Trafford, Sir Alex Ferguson signed 99 players, and only 14 of them were more expensive than Zaha, which included players of the calibre of Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, Robin van Persie and Ruud van Nistelrooy.
Moyes has treated Zaha as the unwanted stepchild of the United squad, and he is already speculating about sending him out on loan when the transfer window opens next month.
As reported in The Daily Mirror, Moyes recently said:
"I've not looked at it yet but I did say to Wilf if I didn't think I was getting enough games [for him] I would consider it.
“But obviously if we've got injuries or if we've got other reasons then I wouldn't take it on board – or if I think there's a reason where I think I'm going to have plenty of chances to use him.
"There's a lot of competition for people who are in front of him. The truth is we haven't had anyone phoning up at the moment and while it's like that I'm fine."
It is hardly a ringing endorsement, and again Zaha deserves better.
Moyes talks about the competition in front of him, but that is misleading, for United are not blessed with a large stable of world-class wingers, and this has been one of the factors behind their poor start to the season.
While Antonio Valencia is beginning to show a return to his best form and Adnan Januzaj continues to prove his youthful potential, Nani and Ashley Young remain as frustrating and erratic as ever.
If this is the competition in front of him and Zaha can’t get a game, then he should be seriously concerned about his future at Old Trafford.
Moyes wouldn’t be taking a risk on Zaha. He isn’t an unproven kid, but rather a full England international who by the time he was 20 had already played 143 games for Crystal Palace, and last season inspired a mediocre Championship squad into the Premier League.
What other business would invest up to £15 million in an asset and then discard them without using them?
Manchester United desperately need a spark of inspiration, and Zaha, with his skill and trickery on the wing, could be just the man to provide that.
Moyes needs to start Zaha in games over the Christmas period, for only then will he begin to realise what a talent he has inherited.
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