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Premier League

Newcastle United vs Crystal Palace: Wilfried Zaha’s rapid rebirth puts Manchester United back in the dock


Neil Warnock spoke of Wilfried Zaha being swallowed up at Manchester United, but the rebirth, the reminder of what persuaded Sir Alex Ferguson to spend £15m on a 20-year-old in January 2013, was so immediate as to pose more questions about what is going on at Old Trafford.

Zaha, who returned to Crystal Palace only on Thursday on a season-long loan, had 25 minutes on Saturday to suggest he might emerge from his United hell as a Premier League player.

That he could not have done much more – scoring a 95th-minute equaliser, having a goal ruled out for a marginal offside and nearly scoring another when his side led 2-1 – suggests he will rise again.

“It’s difficult for such a young lad at such a massive club where you can easily get swallowed up,” said Warnock. “Maybe at that top level they wonder if they can rely on him but he just needs to be given that bit of freedom, because I’ve heard one or two say his attitude is not so good, but for me it’s fantastic.


“He can look a little arrogant on the pitch, but if you look at him and what he does for a forward, he works so hard.

“During the week he wants to do more training. I don’t think he was given too much of a chance to do that up there because they’ve got so many players. Here, I think we can improve him.

“He’s got more than enough in his locker to score lots of goals. For the time he was on today he had two great efforts, one he put in and one I think should have counted. You can’t ask for much more than that and you’d never question his talent and I think there’s even more talent in this team than people think.”

Zaha had last been at St James’ Park on the final day of Newcastle’s home season in May. Then he was on loan at Cardiff and in 11 appearances he could not arrest his apparent decline.

It remains unlikely there is a future at United for a player who is still only 21, given the uncertainty at the club.

Warnock admitted no deal had been put in place for beyond this season.

Fraizer Campbell, another substitute to have an impact, said of Zaha: “He’s an unbelievable talent and I’ve seen enough of him to know what he can do with the ball at his feet. He’s come back to where he’s from and, hopefully, he can find his form again.”

Palace led early through the excellent Dwight Gayle. Daryl Janmaat equalised for Newcastle before Jason Puncheon restored the lead with a fine volley. A poor Newcastle were invigorated by the substitute Rolando Aarons, who scored their second and teed up Mike Williamson for what looked a winner. Then came Zaha.