Wilfriend Zaha earns the praise of Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand

 

Rio Ferdinand has been impressed by Wilfried Zaha's flying start to his Manchester United career.

After a couple of eye-catching performances earlier in United's pre-season tour, Zaha got the goal he craved in Osaka last night.

It was an important one too given it earned the Red Devils a draw against local J.League outfit Cerezo, staving off a third defeat in four games on their trek around Australia and the Far East, hardly the start new manager David Moyes would have wanted.

Zaha is playing down his impact, insisting he would be happy just featuring on a few occasions this term as he gets used to his new surroundings.

However, if the man who was loaned back to Crystal Palace and helped steer the Selhurst Park outfit back into the Premier League after becoming Sir Alex Ferguson's final signing as United boss in January maintains his present progress, he will be involved far more than that.

Ferdinand is wary of passing judgement too soon but the 34-year-old has been impressed so far.

"Wilfried is a fantastic talent. That is why you pay £15million for a kid," said Ferdinand.

"He is raw, with great individual skills and the early indications are that he is a hard worker.

"He wants to be a top footballer and he wants to improve. With those attributes, that desire and the influences he will have at this club, hopefully we will have a top player on our hands."

Zaha shows an impressive directness in his play, which defenders are always fearful of.

Occasionally he does take the wrong option, yet so did Cristiano Ronaldo at a similar age.

"Wilfried can take people on from a standing start," said Ferdinand.

"He is quick and direct but what has surprised me more is that he gets his shots off.

"I have not watched him loads but obviously he is a winger who has a hunger to get inside and drive into the opponents' box. That is a good thing to have."

Coming in the last dregs of injury-time, the goal was proof that despite Ferguson's retirement, United remain capable of hauling themselves out of trouble even when a cause seems lost.

That attitude must survive into the Moyes era if United are to stand any chance of retaining their place at the head of English football.

"We never know when we are beaten," said Ferdinand.

"That Wilfried came on and scored a late goal like that shows what the Manchester United spirit is like. It is still there and it is still roaring strong."

Yet some fans are worried.

The firm insistance from Barcelona that Cesc Fabregas is going nowhere has left United with a problem.

If they continue a pursuit that could end in failure, United risk missing out on alternative targets.

Yet if they abandon the chase - as Moyes threatened last week - they miss out on a player who would seem to be exactly what the Red Devils are missing.

"I always have confidence in the players around me," said Ferdinand.

"I look at our dressing room and I am confident with what we have.

"If the manager wants to add to that, great.

"But as players, we are here to play football.

"The manager is the one who picks the team and buys the players so no matter what my opinions are, they have no bearing.

"But we did win the title last year. What more do you want?"

Of equal concern as they landed in Hong Kong was the terrible weather.

United are due to face Kitchee FC before flying back to Manchester but the heavy rain which made conditions so bad on the first day of the Premier League Asia Cup have continued.

And Moyes will want a report on how the playing surface has stood up to a second double-header in four days before he will be prepared to risk any of his key men.

PA

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