Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha has hit out at former Manchester United boss Louis Van Gaal, saying the Dutch manager set him up to fail at Manchester United.
Manchester United signed Zaha from Crystal Palace in January 2013 but spent the remainder of the season at Crystal Palace before linking up with new manager David Moyes. He went on loan at Cardiff City in the second half of the season and returned to a new manager in Louis Van Gaal.
Zaha claimed Van Gaal who preferred a 3-5-2 formation gave him an option as a wing back or as a striker, a situation he described as being set up to fail.
“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],” Zaha said to On The Judy podcast, via Football 365.
“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.”
Zaha recounted a few times he played a striker a few times and it was not easy for him as he played with his back to the goal against one of the best defenders in the world.
“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.”
It ultimately didn’t work for him at Manchester United, he then went on another loan at Crystal Palace before making the move permanent in 2015.