Gareth Southgate’s decision to ignore the form of Wilfried Zaha when announcing the latest England squad yesterday evening has provoked a widespread sense of bafflement amongst Crystal Palace fans but the piece featured via the link below may just explain why the talented wide man has been left out in the cold.
Whilst the chances of Zaha gaining international recognition looked almost nonexistent at the start of the current Premier League campaign, the 23-year-old’s performances of late have given the impression of a player making up for lost time on the big stage. Where before Wilfried was rightly criticised for a maddening lack of “end product” his play this season has already brought one goal and four assists, the second most of any English player since August.
Given that marked upturn in the academy graduate’s fortunes, Gareth Southgate’s decision to include Andros Townsend, as well as Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard in favour of Zaha has left those of a Palace persuasion pondering the reasons behind the fan favourite’s continued exclusion from the international set-up, particularly when the interim boss said only yesterday that “form” played a pivotal role in his selections for the current crop of England call-ups.
Put quite simply, if form was the key factor when determining the make-up of the latest squad, Zaha would have been a shoe-in for a place as would Southampton’s Charlie Austin; a man who once again lost out to a noticeably out of form Jamie Vardy when push came to shove in Southgate’s mind. Of course, neutrals are unlikely to be too bothered one way or another but for the players themselves, this omission will only serve to further turn them off to the idea of pulling on the Three Lions in the future.
Indeed, rumours have this week surfaced to suggest that Wilfried Zaha is in fact being courted by the Ivory Coast, a nation who would immediately jump at the chance to snatch him away from England if the man himself was receptive to the idea.
Should the story referenced in the above feature from Daniel Taylor be true, the subsequent freeze-out of Zaha in the years that have followed would be a sad but completely unsurprising reaction from those inside FA headquarters, a group who would seemingly prefer to lose an incredibly talented player from under their noses than bury the hatchet over an incident which occurred more than three years ago.
There’s just no helping some people.