Impressive Debut Is Proof Wilfried Zaha Is Better off at Cardiff Than Man United

Rob Dawson@@RobDawsonMENManchester United CorrespondentFebruary 3, 2014


If it hadn't been Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, a man who can do no wrong in the eyes of Manchester United fans, you might have thought he was rubbing it in.

Because on Saturday, while David Moyes was fielding questions about United's eighth Premier League defeat of the season, Solskjaer was lauding one Old Trafford youngster as the next Cristiano Ronaldo.

Wilfried Zaha had earned the plaudits of his temporary manager after stepping off the bench to inspire Cardiff to a second-half comeback against Norwich to lift his new team off the bottom of the table.

How United, turgid and lacklustre against Stoke at the Britannia Stadium, could have done with some of the 21-year-old's creativity and invention.

Reported by the Manchester Evening News, Solskjaer said he was wary of comparing Zaha to Ronaldo but did it anyway.

I don't really want to compare Wilfried with Cristiano, but he has quick feet like Cristiano, he is brave like Cristiano and wants to go forward.

But he is young. He has got to make a decision about how good does he want to be and how he loves this game.

Coming in here he just wants to play football and he's been bright as a button these last few days.

He is one of the best I have seen with the ball. He can grow up to become a proper player like Ronaldo if he wants.

I have never seen anyone work as hard as Ronaldo. Before training, after training, he was an exceptionally dedicated man and proved to everyone what dedication gets you.

It was predictably used as another stick with which to beat the United manager.

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A player frozen out under Moyes had found form under the wing of an Old Trafford legend. While the players Moyes kept were busy disappointing at Stoke, the one he let go was impressing in South Wales.

Injuries to two defenders and a deflected goal weren't the only slices of bad luck Moyes suffered at the weekend.

CARDIFF, WALES - FEBRUARY 01:  Peter Whittingham of Cardiff is substituted by Wilfried Zaha in the first half during the Barclays Premier League match between Cardiff City and Norwich City at Cardiff City Stadium on February 1, 2014 in Cardiff, Wales.  (P
Christopher Lee/Getty Images

It was perhaps unfortunate that Zaha had been so good while his United teammates were performing so poorly. But nothing more.

In fact, Moyes's squad on Saturday showed exactly why Zaha is better off where he is.

With Juan Mata, Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Adnan Januzaj fit and available there wasn't room for Shinji Kagawa. 

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 01:  David Moyes (L), manager of Manchester United walks off with Ashley Young after the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and Manchester United at Britannia Stadium on February 1, 2014 in Stoke on Trent,
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

At least Kagawa made the bus to Stoke. Zaha, who's only made three first-team appearances this season, would have most likely been left behind.

Such was Zaha's impact off the bench on Saturday, there's a chance he'll start at Swansea next weekend.

At 21 years old, Zaha needs to be playing games, and getting them in the Premier League will only help his development.

Stuck at United, the odd game in the Under-21 Premier League isn't going to do him any good. That so many young players left Old Trafford on deadline day is evidence that Moyes and his coaching staff don't trust the standard of the reserve league.

Moyes, not for the first time this season, was perhaps a little unlucky Zaha was so impressive while United were hitting another low point. But all it did was prove he has made the right decision.

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