A delicate balancing act for David Moyes

Posted by Musa Okwonga

David Moyes is currently on his way around Europe, making his own assessment on a series of players who may improve his team. But, at the same time, he must remain mindful of those men who are still on his books. Two of those in particular stand out: There's Nick Powell, 19, whose season on loan at Wigan has so far yielded 10 goals in 26 appearances, and Jesse Lingard, 21, who has recently returned from a few months at Birmingham where he enjoyed a spell that began with four goals on his debut against Sheffield Wednesday.

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Both of them have been using the Championship as a finishing school prior to staking their claim at Old Trafford, a path that Tom Cleverley previously trod (in his case, at Watford). Lingard found himself on the bench for the 2-0 Premier League fixture against Swansea, and may regard the next eighteen months at Manchester United as pivotal to his future there. After all, it is at age 21 when Cleverley was still being mooted as a potential successor to Paul Scholes, a comparison which has long since looked desperately unfair.

Lingard is an intriguing prospect. He boasts the same energy and thrilling acceleration for which Anderson was once feted, and there is something symbolic about the way that he has apparently replaced the departing Brazilian in Moyes' plans. Unlike Anderson, too, he promises to be a more reliable goal-scorer, not only valued for his late runs into the area but also his fearsome drives from distance.

It is interesting, and sensible that Moyes has chosen not to recall Lingard and Powell from loan at the same time. Powell is developing well under the tutelage of Uwe Rosler, playing in a variety of different positions; a versatility that will only benefit the squad when he finally returns. He has been decisive for his team in both domestic and European cup competitions, and at the end of the season may be involved for them in the playoffs; a format in which, of course, he excelled for his former club Crewe Alexandra. Were Powell to come back to Old Trafford now, he might create a possibly premature clamour for his inclusion. In his absence, Moyes can peacefully begin Lingard's audition for a regular place in the starting eleven.

Moyes' willingness to give youth a chance may even eventually extend to Wilfried Zaha. The winger, capped by England but still unable to secure more than a few minutes in the last few matches, may be granted a loan move to Cardiff. Speculation persists as to whether this will actually happen, even though he is playing second fiddle to Antonio Valencia for a berth on the right wing.

Zaha's performances in training may have been somewhat disappointing for him to have been so often absent -- either that or, as the player himself has acknowledged, he needs to work better on retaining the ball. In either event, Zaha's development has been particularly cautious. If he can take heart from anything, it is that Adnan Januzaj has shown that inexperience should not be a bar to progress. The absence of Ashley Young through injury may yet present Zaha with an opportunity to make a prolonged run at the first team.

As the transfer window moved through its halfway stage this past week, Moyes is coping with a delicate balancing act of attracting new talent, while keeping his most gifted young charges happy as they approach maturity.

Thankfully for him, Powell, Lingard and Zaha look to be worth the wait.


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