Crystal Palace Academy Director Gary Issott believes that Ryan Giggs will be the ideal mentor for Wilfried Zaha after the youngster was ordered to change next to the Manchester United legend to learn what is needed to become an Old Trafford star.
United boss David Moyes is keen that 20-year-old Zaha picks up good habits following his big money move from Crystal Palace and he has been handed a peg next to Giggs at the club’s Aon training complex in Carrington.
Giggs, who will reach his 40th birthday in November, is United’s record appearance holder and was recently appointed as a player-coach at the club.
The young England winger got off to an inauspicious start to life at Old Trafford by mislaying his club suit ahead of the team’s departure for their current world pre-season tour but Issott believes that the Welshman’s influence will help the youngster mature.
“We all remember Ryan Giggs when he burst on the scene as a left winger – so he’ll understand what the demands are on Wilfried for that position and there’ll be no one better to teach him what it’s like to be a Man United player,” Issott told Talksport.
“I don’t know myself what those demands are because I’ve never been at that club but I assume you’ve got to be at your best every single day and every minute of every day on and off the pitch.”
Zaha came through the youth ranks at Selhurst Park before signing for United in a £15m deal last January and Issott believes that his time served in the Championship will help him become an established Premier League performer.
“He was ready to play in the Premier League – when you look at other players similar to him like Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott and Connor Wickham and the timing of their moves, Wilfried’s probably exceeded the amount of games they accumulated,” continued Issott.
“The first challenge now is can he get in United’s 25-man squad and that’s what he’ll be focussed on during pre-season.”
“Wilfried’s is a strange journey really he wasn’t an obvious superstar at 14-15 years-old. He was quite introverted as a character and was a physically late developer and we had to show a lot of patience with him.”
“When he came in full-time at 16 he started to get his physical attributes that he’s got now and he really took off. He’s got the ability to go one versus two or three. I remember coaching him and you’d look at him in those moments and be asking him to find a team-mate in space and all of a sudden he’d go past three players. He developed a lot of his play on the street which has given him that unique talent,” added Issott.
As well as Zaha, others to fall off Palace’s lauded production line in recent years include, Victor Moses, Nathaniel Clyne and Johnny Williams and Issott believes that ‘opportunity’ is key to their successful record of churning out talented young players.
“A lot to do with it is the opportunity they get at Crystal Palace,” added Issott.
“They mix with the seniors very early. They come in as apprentices after leaving school and they can be training with the first-team that season. You learn off coaches sure you learn off good players equally as much so to go and train and be around the first-team brings on their game and them on and makes them grow up quicker. A lot of the success we’ve had is due to that.”