It could be viewed as a bold statement in the eyes of many, but we at HLTCO are going to nail our colours to the mast. Wilfried Zaha will be on the plane to Euro 2016.
To some it may seem flippant, but following on from the winger’s stunning individual display at Carrow Road last weekend, there is little doubt that, should be continue to get the backing of his boss Alan Pardew, he has all the tools necessary to force Roy Hodgson into selecting him for next summer’s England squad.
Watching on from the away end in Norfolk last Saturday did at times resemble a one man circus show, particularly after Alan Pardew decided to swap Zaha from the right to the left after roughly 20 minutes. Carefree and confident in his natural game Wilfried flourished, causing the Canaries constant problems prior to his close-range volleyed opener with a little over five minutes left in the first period.
To see him in full flow is to watch a player who resembles the effortless grace with which a talented pianist may well manipulate his instrument of choice. Instinctive and flowing, Wilfried appears to take a great deal of joy in teasing and prodding his opponents at every step. Always quick with a trick, the academy graduate’s game has come on leaps and bounds since he managed to escape from Old Trafford; empowered by the strength of trust that both the fans and his manager have in him.
Indeed, it didn’t take long for Alan Pardew to light a fire under Wilfried’s backside following his arrival in January, provoking a performance that was reminscent of his early days when we welcomed Totenham to Selhurst Park shortly after the departing Newcastle boss had taken up residence in the Palace dugout. Brought off the bench to great effect, Zaha caused Kyle Walker to twist himself inside out and onto the floor, before finding the cross which saw Jason Puncheon give us a lead we never looked back from.
Now, with his head settled, an improved squad around him and a manager who believes passionately in his potential for greatness, the sky really is the limit. We must remember that it was Roy Hodgson who gave the winger a chance in the England squad prior to our promotion to the top flight, proving that he was not afraid to take a punt on a player many felt wasn’t mature enough to pull on the Three Lions.
Just as was the case then, the England hierarchy will struggle to ignore Wilf if he carries on in the same fashion as he managed last weekend. Put quite simply, when he’s on his game, there aren’t many full-backs across the division who could deal with him and regardless of the past, attacking outlets such as that cannot be pushed to one side forever.
He’s got nine months to force his way onto plane, which will prove to be more than enough time if he continues to play as well as he has done since the new boss came in. For the man himself, it’s quite startling to think how big a difference he has made to his game in a little more than a year, proving that confidence really does make an unmeasurable difference to his state of mind.