Wilfried Zaha grabs rare opportunity to impress new Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal
The Dutchman has bluntly stated that he only sees the player as a striker and not as the winger he was known to be at Crystal Palace
It didn't need much imagination to know how David Moyes felt about Wilfried Zaha fuelling baseless stories about an assignation between himself and the manager's daughter by publishing an oblique tweet about them last season. Zaha's excursion onto social media contributed to the impression that it was his attitude, more than his football, which led Moyes to limit him to one Manchester United start before farming him out to Cardiff City on loan.
Zaha's demeanour when he speaks after an emphatic contribution to Manchester United's penalty shoot-out victory over Internazionale on Tuesday night suggests an intelligence and some powers of introspection and self-analysis, though: qualities that are imperative in any Louis van Gaal player. He does not criticise Moyes for not playing him. “There was so much pressure on him so I can't really blame him. I could have got a better chance but coming to United brings a load of pressure,” he says. But he defends himself emphatically against suggestions that he had an attitude problem. “To be honest, if you are not the managers cup of tea you can't do anything about it. There was nothing I could do about it. It was definitely not my attitude. The manager had his way of playing and maybe I just didn't suit it.”
He looks as far away as ever from making it as a Manchester United player, with manager Van Gaal having bluntly stated that he only sees him as a striker and not as the winger he was known to be at Crystal Palace. “I don't know [if I've got the ability to play there],” he says, having demonstrated against Inter that he does.“If the manager wants me to play there it would help me to discover what I can do there. I don't think I have ever played there before but I enjoyed it there [against Inter]. I am used to being a winger but if a manager wants me to adapt to a new position than I will have to and I don't mind. To be honest, it's not as much running as being a winger so I will take it! I don't know what people say but I just need to keep it simple. I have tried to over-elaborate and then I lose the ball and that doesn't help anyone.”
But his contribution against Inter, just as in the solitary game Moyes gave him against Norwich City in last season's Carling Cup, revealed that he does seize his brief chances. Zaha will not die wondering what van Gaal thought of him, either. “Yeah, he will tell you exactly how he wants it,” he says. “He won't beat about the bush or not tell you anything. He will just tell you and that helps you instead of isolating you or just not telling you. He will let you know exactly where you are and what you are doing wrong.”
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