Manchester United: What now for 15m man?

There can be few industries where the stock of an individual rises and falls as rapidly or extremely as in football. John Gregory, Owen Coyle and Phil Brown momentarily rode the crest of waves as managers before crashing into the sea and swallowing a load of water in the process.

Martin O Neill thought of Manchester United scapegoat Ashley Young as a genius and Fernando Torres was seen by many, including this writer, as the best striker in the world. Fortunes change so quickly and so much that it seems foolish to hang your hat on anyone.

So what of Wilfried Zaha? Signed 18 months ago by Manchester United for ¬£15m on the back of some consistent brilliance in The Championship for Crystal Palace. You could argue that they wouldn’t be in the top flight now had it not been for the contribution of this supremely lithe and agile young Manchester United athlete.

But, a year and a half on, Zaha can’t even get into the struggling Cardiff side that he has been loaned out to. When Manchester United sent him to Wales there were cries of despair. Surely Zaha had the speed, tricks and dribbling ability that Manchester United so patently lacked on the flanks?

There is no doubting the physical prowess of the kid. He’s really quick and so bendy and supple that he can get out of impossibly tight situations. But the big problem has been that Zaha can go missing in games to a worrying degree. His football brain perhaps hasn’t developed as quickly as his football body and he hasn’t made any sort of impact at Cardiff in his two months there. Recently he has been lucky to get any game time at all.

Cardiff was supposed to be the chance for Zaha to get top flight minutes and begin to shine in The Premier League. But he now needs to have a word with himself and make some quick and sizeable improvements to his game. Otherwise a permanent transfer from Manchester United might not be far away.

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