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  #121  
Old 20-04-2019, 11:25 AM
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Second Daily Mail article of the day

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It now reads a bit more like he is having an honest conversation with a reporter rather than specifically reaching out to the papers for a 'Come and get me' plea.

I'll admit I am clutching at straws a little but I do think this make it less inevitable.


Quote:
Manchester United tried to break me: Wilfried Zaha unbowed despite pain of being 'belittled' at Old Trafford
-Wilfried Zaha cannot hide his hopes of returning to the highest level in football
-Driving the winger on are memories of what happened at Manchester United
-Zaha's 'opportunity of a lifetime' at Old Trafford did not unfold as planned
-The Crystal Palace star is eager to write the next chapter in his football career
-Watching the Champions League has increased his desire to return to top level


When Wilfried Zaha talks about being more determined than ever to succeed, he leaves you in no doubt that he means it. You can see it, hear it, feel it.

Zaha is fascinating as he discusses an array of topics — his current club, his future, his Champions League dreams and the upbringing that now inspires his award- winning charity work. But especially relevant before a crossroads summer for the 26-year-old Crystal Palace winger, and a topic which brings out the most emotion in him, is his time at Manchester United.

Zaha cannot hide his hopes of returning to the highest level and is ambitious to challenge for the big trophies. Driving him on are memories of what happened when he earned the 'opportunity of a lifetime' — a dream move to Manchester United — which did not unfold as planned.

Zaha recalls a catalogue of incidents, what he calls 'the ins and outs of what really happened', which support his belief that then manager David Moyes and his staff tried to 'break me in every way possible' and 'destroy my career for no reason'.

That Sir Alex Ferguson made Zaha his final signing, only to retire before he joined full-time, is common knowledge. That his successor Moyes had already deemed Zaha 'not my type of player' while he was Everton boss is lesser-known.

Looking back now as he speaks to Sportsmail, that alone is an indication that he barely stood a chance from the off. 'It was the opportunity of a lifetime,' Zaha says. 'The chance to play for Manchester United. It was beyond anything I could have hoped for and I treated it that way. I tried my hardest in every training session to show what I could do.'

But he recalls feeling marginalised when Moyes took issue with the way he dressed and even the car he drove. Zaha felt further let down by the club's failure to shut down false rumours he was sleeping with Moyes' daughter and that his absence was due to an attitude problem. He remembers being 'belittled' in training by one United coach after scoring. On another occasion he was shown a video of himself in tricky winger mode for Palace and was asked how he could recapture that form, having already been told by Moyes to cut out the fancy footwork. 'You see the mind games they were playing?' a bewildered Zaha asks.

Despite all this, Zaha continued to give Moyes the benefit of the doubt, accepting he would opt for experienced players as he tried to find his feet as Ferguson's successor.

'But when he took me out of the Champions League squad and put in Adnan Januzaj, who had never played for the first team, I knew then that this is way bigger than I ever thought and had gone way beyond footballing reasons,' he says. 'When it was not about football or ability, what could I do?'

This was not what Zaha had envisaged after meeting Ferguson and Sir Bobby Charlton and discovering that United wanted him.

Zaha was United's standout player in 2013-14 pre-season under Moyes but was inexplicably frozen out until late October after starting in the Community Shield.

By the time Zaha escaped to join Cardiff on loan in January 2014 he was a shadow of his former self.

'They got a ghost of Wilfried Zaha at Cardiff,' he said, despite impressing the Welsh club's manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with his application as he tried to get back on track.

Zaha described what should have been a fresh start at United the following season under Louis van Gaal as 'like being on trial at my own club.' He remembers the Dutchman and his assistant Ryan Giggs saying they would decide his future based on the outcome of one training session. 'Wayne Rooney said to me "you've trained the best",' Zaha recalls.

'Then I go inside, have the meeting with them and they just said: "We just don't think you're good enough". So I said "OK then, I just want to go on loan".'


Zaha returned on loan to Palace and signed permanently in February 2015, having made only four appearances for United and played just 28 minutes in the Premier League as a substitute.

Zaha stresses he is now 'over' how things turned out. But with many using it to question whether he is cut out for life at the top, it is clear his side of the story needs considering before conclusions are drawn.

He says: 'Not being given a fair opportunity to play at all and being called a flop is what hurt me even more. How can I be if I wasn't given a fair chance?'

'I see Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele, these types of players, and dribbling wise I'm up there with them but they have been given the platform to perform.

'Every day I wanted to go on Twitter or Instagram and say something but I couldn't. That would be unprofessional.'

But Zaha says he is a more rounded person for the ordeal.

'I'm better prepared mentally to deal with any situation I'm faced with now. I was a little fish in a big pond. From that grind, going out on loan, nobody believing in me — I've built that self belief in myself.

'The experience has given me even more and proved that I can do anything if I believe in myself. As long as I continue to work hard and remain dedicated nothing will get in the way of me reaching my goals.'

Speaking a couple of days after winning a award for his charity work, Zaha starts to explain why he is so keen to give back.

But he ends up delivering a short but powerful monologue about why his upbringing is another big reason he will no longer let anything stop him chasing his dreams.

'Football has changed my life, changed my family's life,' says Zaha who, along with his family, has donated generously to worthwhile causes in the UK and Ivory Coast throughout his career and now also set up his own foundation.

'Even when I signed for Palace when I was eight I still had nothing. At all. My dad took me to training in cars that broke down all the time. We'd have to get out and push them.

‘Then I got to the stage where I had to take the bus by myself. I couldn't afford to buy boots, so I'd play in trainers on the grass or borrow boots from my friends.

'So football, in a way, really saved our lives. We came from nothing. I've been through so much to get to where I am now for anything to stop me getting to that next level, or returning to that next level.

'My story doesn't stop here. I'm too ambitious. And not ambitious just to play for a top club but to win things at club level and with the Ivory Coast. To go to the next level and test myself properly.'

Zaha's story already features the fairytale of his journey from arriving in England aged four, living a goal kick away from Selhurst Park and being inspired by its bright lights, to becoming the best player shining underneath them for Crystal Palace.

Then came that steep learning curve after being sidelined at Old Trafford before his rebuilding back at Palace, a tale that defied the idea you should never go back.

Everything he has been through has left Zaha with an unshakeable belief in his ability.

And the time has come, it seems, to start writing the next chapter in his rags to riches rise.

Watching the recent Champions League action has only increased Zaha’s desire to return to the top level.

'It gives me goosebumps seeing the crowds, amazing stadiums,' he says. 'When I’m seeing players I think ‘what would I do in that predicament?’.

'I feel I can get to that stage, with the confidence I have and belief in my ability. I should be there. I’m missing out. I don’t just want to be at home watching it.'

Zaha recalls with awe watching the likes of Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo bail their teams out of Champions League trouble in the knockout stages.

He says: 'Real players, when the time comes, it’s that big stage, they’re the ones that step up. I want to be that player in the big game.

'I want to be competing at the highest level where there’s an opportunity to win trophies. That’s where I picture myself.'

Zaha has found the right environment to develop into the player Ferguson thought he could be, one ready to return to that 'highest level,' since re-joining Palace.

'I spoke to Alex Ferguson about him recently and he still thinks he’s destined to be a top player,' then Eagles boss Alan Pardew revealed in 2016. 'Alex still talks about the qualities Wilf has.'

They became so crucial to Palace that they failed to win a league game without Zaha for over two years.

But neither a third successive productive season this term for 13th-placed Palace, including winning more Premier League penalties (six) than anyone else, nor being widely hailed as the best player outside the top six, is enough to satisfy a player with Zaha’s hopes and dreams.

'I'd love those sort of compliments when I’m in a top six club,' says Zaha, who is two short of his 10-goal target for this year.

During 90 minutes of a different kind for the Ivorian international, speaking rather than playing, Zaha is just like he is on the pitch — passionate and animated - especially when something really matters to him, with Palace being another of those topics.

And while his personal ambitions dictate there will have to be life after his boyhood club, he will forever be emotionally attached to the south Londoners.

'The people at Palace showed me crazy love.' he said, reflecting on how Palace picked him up post-United.

'The most real fans in the Premier League. Throughout every game, no matter how I’m playing, if I’m going through bad spells, not scoring for a little while they will back you.

'On my Twitter if anyone says anything, 100 per cent [they have my back]. Say one thing wrong about me and they will go crazy. That’s genuine, genuine love for a player.'

In an ideal world Zaha would repay them by leading Palace into the Champions League but the reality is that is not possible. Club and player have different goals and Zaha has hit a ceiling at Palace.

'For me to be better, to achieve what I know I am capable of, I have to aim to play at the very highest level, to win trophies,' he said.

'I'm blessed to have come this far in my playing career, and I have so many people to thank for that. But I feel like there is so much more I have to offer.

'I have to experience the Champions League. I just need the opportunity, that's it. And I’ll do the rest.'
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  #122  
Old 20-04-2019, 11:30 AM
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£50mill sounds fair for a player unproven at a top club whether here or abroad. Plus his wages so his future club's outlay will be around £80mill for a 4 year deal.

We really must not try to replace him as he is irreplaceable a la Gabbiadini/Wright. Must change team format and style instead.
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  #123  
Old 20-04-2019, 12:07 PM
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We really must not try to replace him as he is irreplaceable a la Gabbiadini/Wright. Must change team format and style instead.
The number of times this is trotted out. Gabbiadini was 1:3 for us in the top tier which is very good at a club like us. The goals were "high context" too in the main, not like, the 4th in a 4-1 win for example. The problem was we didn't replace Gabbiadini! As you were everyone.
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  #124  
Old 20-04-2019, 12:16 PM
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Steve's been on the dog.
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  #125  
Old 20-04-2019, 12:44 PM
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He's replaceable, just what we need to do now if we are intending on selling than start looking for a replacement now, sort out the best deal for us and plan ahead for once.

Be a shame to see him go but we need to progress without him, shame but when he signed a new deal kind of thought we would build around him as we had such a good opportunity too but seem to have wasted the last two seasons fighting relegation and he deserves better.
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  #126  
Old 20-04-2019, 12:51 PM
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Well after reading the more extensive interview, that’s definitely sure he’s away or at least making it clear he’s available. Not saying it’s not sincerely his words but sounds very choreographed to me; basically stating the Man U experience was not his fault and just the case of a new manager who never signed him not fancying him; goes on about his huge desire to play at the top and confidence to perform well, then ends with some lovely heartfelt words for the Palace fans.

It’s the perfect goodbye letter.
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  #127  
Old 20-04-2019, 12:51 PM
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Ian Wright was a much better player and we survived and moved on. Wilf is a special player but I think that this is a very good time to sell - provided that we can recruit a few quality players who won't be phased about playing in a team that will be subject to the usual survival scrap, especially without Zaha.
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  #128  
Old 20-04-2019, 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Sleeping Giant View Post
The number of times this is trotted out. Gabbiadini was 1:3 for us in the top tier which is very good at a club like us. The goals were "high context" too in the main, not like, the 4th in a 4-1 win for example. The problem was we didn't replace Gabbiadini! As you were everyone.
Yes, all true. But there was also the sub plot that he didn’t get on with the rest of the lads. Any player would have found it difficult to replace someone as loved as Wrighty, but Marco didn’t go out of his way at all to ingratiate himself with the others - quite the contrary.
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Old 20-04-2019, 01:14 PM
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If he goes to a club in this country, it will really hurt when they sing 'he's just too good for you' when he plays us.
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  #130  
Old 20-04-2019, 01:18 PM
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Yes, all true. But there was also the sub plot that he didn’t get on with the rest of the lads. Any player would have found it difficult to replace someone as loved as Wrighty, but Marco didn’t go out of his way at all to ingratiate himself with the others - quite the contrary.
Completely aware, think Bright in particular didn't get on with him. Got rid of Marco and then Bright left soon after anyway. Thanks Brighty. The point is merely that we didn't replace a 1:3 striker. Why would we when we had Chris Coleman?
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  #131  
Old 20-04-2019, 01:31 PM
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I really don't want Wilf to go but understand his need to prove himself at the very highest level he can. We are improving our squad but it's a slow business and time is no longer on Wilfs side. I recall Vince Hilaire staying loyal too long and perhaps not having the career he might have had. I wouldn't want the same for Wilf.
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Old 20-04-2019, 01:33 PM
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Truly gutted but not shocked. He gave us an extra two seasons and we just pissed it away and never pushed on. He’s always been the funding for the stand IMHO.
The issue is who’s going to spend the money on him as we will have a figure in mind and won’t sell him on the cheap.
All those comparing him to Hazard forgets that he only has a year left on his contract. So it’s sell him now before the transfer ban comes in or let him go for nothing. We have 4 years left.
He’s also worth more to us than he is to a big club so they have to pay a premium. Expect him to go for close to the £65m mark with a few add ons. But really we should be looking to get a few premium loans thrown in.

I’ll wish him nothing but the best but gutted I had to watch him stifled in a Roy Boy team in some odd position. If he goes to a big club he’ll be back on the wing doing what he does best.
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Old 20-04-2019, 01:53 PM
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Completely aware, think Bright in particular didn't get on with him. Got rid of Marco and then Bright left soon after anyway. Thanks Brighty. The point is merely that we didn't replace a 1:3 striker. Why would we when we had Chris Coleman?
that was hard to take after watching Wright and Bright up top for the last 5 years. Was hoping at the time Colleymore would’ve replaced Wrighty, and in hindsight it might’ve been perfect but again, another player whose face didn’t fit at that point.

We eventually found a replacement in Armstrong but came just too late for survival.
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  #134  
Old 20-04-2019, 02:45 PM
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Nothing to do with 1:3 - Gabbiadini wasn't the right fit and not even half the player Wright was yet we spent most of the Wright money on him.
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Old 20-04-2019, 02:52 PM
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Ian Wright was a much better player and we survived and moved on..
By moving on you mean we went from 3rd in the top flight to relegated the next season and 20 years in the doldrums with 2 administrations.

Wilf leaving will lead to a very very slippery slope.
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Old 20-04-2019, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Sleeping Giant View Post
Steve's been on the dog.
That's no way to refer to Reid is it?


We can't replace Wilf and I agree that a rebuilding of our entire system and team is needed in the summer, not least because we didn't look more than a few bad calls/unlucky goals away from being where Brighton are now anyway.
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Old 20-04-2019, 03:13 PM
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Has always felt like Arsenal to me...£55m + Welbeck or something
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  #138  
Old 20-04-2019, 03:14 PM
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Football PR these days, eh. That article is a great advert for a great product.
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  #139  
Old 20-04-2019, 03:27 PM
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By moving on you mean we went from 3rd in the top flight to relegated the next season and 20 years in the doldrums with 2 administrations.

Wilf leaving will lead to a very very slippery slope.
It's quite possible that his departure will indeed see us fall back down a tier. Of course if we can develop the main stand and become a regular top half of the championship club then we will still have made some progress from where we were before Wilf arrived on the scene.
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  #140  
Old 20-04-2019, 05:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stockport_Eagle View Post
Has always felt like Arsenal to me...£55m + Welbeck or something
Welbeck is out of contract
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