Moyes admits Zaha likely to go out on loan in January
Wilfried Zaha was Alex Ferguson's final signing as Manchester United manager, a £15m parting gift to David Moyes.
Capped by England four days after his 20th birthday, and bought by Ferguson on the trusted advice of his son Darren, Zaha appeared to present a welcome alternative at Old Trafford to Nani or Ashley Young.
Yet Moyes has yet to grant Zaha a single minute of competitive football. The manager indicated yesterday that the winger might finally be given his club debut in this evening's League Cup tie against Norwich City, although he offered no guarantees.
It is difficult to remember any English club buying a player for a similar fee and then failing to give them exposure to any first-team action for such an extended period. Zaha, a maverick winger who was born in the Ivory Coast and raised in south London, effectively joined United in the summer because although Ferguson arranged the deal to buy him in January, he was loaned back to former club Crystal Palace for the remainder of last season.
Having inspired Palace to promotion to the Premier League, he took part in United's tour of the Far East, impressing to the extent that he played for England against Scotland in August. Three days before that, he had started United's final pre-season game of the summer, the Community Shield against Wigan. Since then: nothing.
Zaha has acknowledged he has plenty to learn and has always stressed his ambition in his first season at United was to earn time on the field, aware that appearances could be limited. But his lack of involvement has led him to seek a loan move to a rival Premier League club in January.
Moyes confirmed yesterday that United were considering granting Zaha's request.
"I just don't think we have had the right opportunity to get him on as much as would have liked," Moyes said. "We don't want to put him in too quickly.
"I've said I would look at it in January as I wanted to have him here for six months to see how we work. I told him we would try to get him minutes but the competition in the wide areas we have with Nani, Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young, Adnan Januzaj and even Shinji Kagawa playing off the side means we are as strong there as anywhere.
"It's not that Wilf has done anything wrong, it's just that we have big competition and we have to try to make sure he gets some playing time.
"Unfortunately, we haven't done that with Wilf and, if it's still the case in January, we would look at it (sending him on loan). But he is very much in my plans and in my thoughts all the time."
The bafflement of certain observers at Moyes's failure to deploy Zaha has led to some unfounded conspiracy theories being aired on the internet.
But it seems more likely that Moyes simply does not rate Zaha as highly a Ferguson did. (© Daily Telegraph, London)