Speak to any Crystal Palace fan, and ask them who their favourite player is. If they are under the age of 35, it is quite likely going to be Wilfried Zaha. The academy boy has been at the club for a long time now, with a spell at Manchester United inbetween two great spells in blue and red. However, even the most ardent defender of Zaha will tell you that one key weakness in his game is his goals record.
Though an absolutely excellent player and one who brings more than just numbers, Zaha has never been the most consistent. Previous Palace managers, though, seemed happy just to have the ability to call upon such a fine player. Now, though, Patrick Vieira – a man who played with elite talent at club and international level – is not quite so smitten by Zaha.
Although it is clear that Vieira still rates Zaha as among the best at Palace, the days of coasting are gone. The forward has had a luxury in a way in that he can go weeks, even months, without a goal without being dropped. His value to Palace far outweighed goals. However, it has become clear over recent years that Palace have perhaps indulged this side of Zaha’s game too much.
Now, with the player back after a disappointing AFCON 2022 exit, Vieira was quick to remind him – and Palace fans – that consistency is the number one attribute being searched for. Patchy form for Palace has long been an issue for Zaha, and his last game for the club seen him sent off against Tottenham Hotspur. With that in mind, Vieira was quick to tell everyone via the press that the days of being able to coast are now over.
What did Patrick Vieira say about Wilfried Zaha?
At his press conference in midweek ahead of the Norwich City game, Vieira was quick to stress that Zaha needs to show more. This Palace team is built on more than just rapid transitions, and Vieira is keen to see his star asset begin to use his incredible talent more.
Speaking at the presser, Vieira said: “With his potential, I think he can do more. I’m really demanding of him because of his ability in possession and out of possession. He is a player that can deliver and he needs to be more consistent.
“I think the experience is telling me that the talent is fantastic to have but what is important is the team. We built a squad where players are taking confidence and belief in their ability. We have a couple of players who can score goals and create chances.
However, the Frenchman was keen to stress that Zaha is still a key part of his plans, adding: “We are stronger when we have a really good Wilfried Zaha on the field because of his ability to score goals and create danger. But it’s important as well for him to understand that you need the team around you to perform and to allow him to do what he can to deliver.”