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Wilfried Zaha Believes He Was 'Set Up To Fail' At Manchester United by Van Gaal

Wilfried Zaha Believes He Was 'Set Up To Fail' At Manchester United by Van Gaal
By Gary Connaughton

Considering the form he has shown for Crystal Palace in recent years, it is interesting to wonder how Wilfried Zaha could have fared at Manchester United had he been given more first team opportunities.

The Ivory Coast international moved to Old Trafford in the summer of 2013, coinciding with end of the Alex Ferguson era at the club. He would make two Premier League appearance under new boss David Moyes before joining Cardiff City on loan during the winter transfer window.

By the time he returned to United, Moyes had been replaced with Louis van Gaal. While Zaha thought he should have been given more opportunities under Moyes, it was under the Dutchman that he felt he was 'set up to fail'.

Appearing on the On The Judy podcast, the 28-year old said that an early ultimatum from van Gaal during pre-season meant he knew he was unlikely to thrive under his new manager.

I went back to United after that and it was Louis van Gaal by then. When he came, it was after the World Cup where he played Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben up front [for the Netherlands national team].

He gave me two options: you’re either a wing-back or a striker. Those are positions I’d never played before, it was like I’m being set up to fail.

This was after coming back from the David Moyes era and I was just shattered with how everything didn’t work out for me. Then I go back, I get ‘either you’re a striker or a wing-back’ – and I couldn’t do either.

I can vary my game now. With years of playing you get experience. You’ve seen me play up front for Palace these days.

Back then I wasn’t good with my back to goal because I didn’t have the awareness. I’d stand on the ball and the defender would poke it away. I wasn’t good with that.

I remember I had to play striker in pre-season. We were playing teams like Inter, I had to play against [Nemanja] Vidic. We played against Real Madrid, I’m playing against Pepe and [Sergio] Ramos up front.

It was like, ‘this guy is boying me’. Bro, I’m being thrown in the deep end against the maddest teams.

Zaha would ultimately join former club Crystal Palace on loan that summer, with the move made permanent a few months later.

Since then he has starred in the Premier League, leaving many wonder how much of an impact he could have made at Manchester United had his talent been nurtured in the correct way.

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