Sport Soccer

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Pardew: Zaha has to raise his game

Wilfried Zaha failed to make the breakthrough during his time at Manchester United
Wilfried Zaha failed to make the breakthrough during his time at Manchester United

Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew has told Wilfried Zaha to forget about his Championship success with the club, insisting the winger needs to raise his game if he wants to make it in the top flight.

Zaha made his loan stay at Palace permanent on the last day of the transfer window, re-signing from Manchester United for an initial fee of £3million.

The 22-year-old made just four first-team appearances at Old Trafford and struggled to reproduce the displays that saw him named Championship Player of the Year in 2013.

"I hope I can get him back to his best but those games weren't in the Premier League," Pardew said.

"It's a higher standard and he's going to have to raise his game because we've got real competition in that area of the team at the moment.

"Obviously he didn't start at Everton - this isn't the Championship where he was a star.

"This is a level up and he needs to be a star at this level."

Zaha has been in and out of the Palace starting line-up this season and despite some encouraging performances, he has scored only once in 19 games.

"What does he need to improve? Concentration - his concentration when the opposition have the ball - his final product and his desire to improve," Pardew said.

"Those are the three areas and I see the latter one in him - I think if you've got that then you've got a chance of putting everything right.

"He wants to be a top player and he's going to have much easier access to the first team than he did at Man United so he's definitely got a great chance."

Sir Alex Ferguson paid £10m to sign Zaha in January 2013 but the Scot retired that summer and Zaha fell out of favour under both David Moyes and Louis van Gaal.

"That's a big environment for a young footballer to go into - Manchester United and all the pressure that you're under and the competition.

"Sometimes you just can't break through and I think he was a case of that.

"You have to start again in a way and that's what he's doing with us."

Pardew added: "Jason Puncheon's an example, he's somebody that I took to Southampton when nobody really wanted him.

"I always believed in his technical ability but what I find now is a player who has this inner confidence.

"That's what Wilf has got to gain - he's got to gain that inner belief that he can play at this level and deal with whoever the full-back is, whether he's an international or a second-string player.

"He needs to know he's going to have a good day against him - that's the standard he needs to get to."

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