Phil Neville believes Wilfried Zaha has been blown away by life at Manchester United and a lack of playing time is to be expected after making such a big switch.
The 20-year-old spent his whole career at Crystal Palace before Sir Alex Ferguson signed him in a £15 million move last January and he has been blooded into the first team very slowly.
Zaha was one of the stand-out performers on the pre-season tour yet has since gone on to make only one appearance but although Neville believes he is a ‘diamond’ player, he doesn’t look at his lack of game time as any concern at the start of his United career.
Speaking to The Guardian, he said: “Wilf is a diamond. People say: ‘Why is he not playing?’
“But we’re seeing the same with [Marouane] Fellaini and we’ve seen it with Vida [Nemanja Vidic] and Patrice [Evra] in the past.
“The first six months… forget the games, just being a Manchester United footballer, the intensity of training, the expectation, it’s really hard. It blows you away.”
At United, the poor form of our current first team wingers has probably contributed to the desire to see Zaha get give opportunities as soon as possible but it hasn’t proved to be the case.
Neville should know a thing or two about the intensity of training and the expectations of being a United player more than most. Also, he is now a first team coach and watches Zaha train every day, so he is better placed than any fan as to whether he is ready to play yet.
There’s no doubt that playing at United is massively different to Palace but what Zaha showed against Blackburn this week is that he hasn’t let his lack of game time get him down. It has already made him a better player, mentally and physically, which is a combination he’ll need to make it as a first team regular.
Zaha’s learning every day he trains at Carrington and although he hasn’t achieved his goal of more first team appearances just yet, he will continue to improve the longer he is a United player. Right now, the 20-year-old is a rough diamond but with some polishing, he has every chance of becoming a star.