Ian Holloway will consider asking Manchester United to loan Wilfried Zaha back to Crystal Palace to help the club stay in the Premier League, a feat the south London side have been unable to achieve following each of their two previous play-off triumphs.
Zaha produced an outstanding performance to help Palace beat Watford 1-0 in a tense final worth upwards of £120m to the victors, winning the penalty that enabled Kevin Phillips to score the decisive goal in extra time. The 20-year-old is due to report to Old Trafford next season, having been signed by Sir Alex Ferguson for £15m in January before being loaned back to Palace for the remainder of the season.
Holloway will spend the summer trying to build a squad that will avoid coming straight back down. Asked whether that will entail asking the new United manager, David Moyes, to send Zaha back to Selhurst Park to further his development, Holloway said: "I think he'd be silly to give me him back to me. But you never know, now that we're up it might be realistic. We'll see."
Holloway hailed the "moment of genius" that Zaha produced in the first half of extra time, when the winger went on another dribble into the Watford penalty area before being fouled by Marco Cassetti to earn the spot-kick.
Watford's manager, Gianfranco Zola, a man well qualified to judge a top player given his own stellar career, said that Zaha was "the difference between the teams" and expects him to make a big impact in the Premier League, suggesting the winger is ready to make the step up to succeed at Old Trafford.
"I have never questioned the abilities of Zaha," said Zola. "In games like this where it is very balanced and tense, it is decided by the individuality of a player. He created that penalty from nothing. I also liked the way he managed himself on the pitch. Now he is going to play for the champions and the level that he has to play at is bigger, but I am sure he will learn and he is going to a place that is very good at improving players. He will go far, he has a lot of talent."
Holloway said he has already begun "scratching my head to figure out how we can stay up next year" and may also seek to secure Phillips for another season. The 39-year-old, on loan from Holloway's previous club, Blackpool, is out of contract in June and sounded unsure of his future immediately after the game, declaring "my body's aching at the end of a long season, I'll have to go away and have a think". Later, though, he was quoted by the Sun as saying: "If something is offered to me, I'd be daft to turn it down."
Holloway said: "I'll keep signing him until he's 50 or 60 if he keeps putting the ball in the net." The manager has helped preserve Phillips this season by allowing him to travel to London for training just once a week from his home in the north, and may ask the striker to agree a new deal.
"The difficult thing for Kevin is living in a hotel once or twice a week because he doesn't [want] to move his family any more," Holloway said. "My lads accept that because they know what he does when he turns up. So it might be about whether he can still have that enthusiasm like me, that jiggle in the soul you feel in the morning."
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