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Saha’s Still Not Satisfied – Are We?

Louis Saha SunderlandManchester United earned their three points yesterday rather easily. There could have been reason to fear when looking at the line-up. Our fourth and fifth choice central midfielders, Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick, started in the middle, Nani replaced Giggs on the wing, Louis Saha, who is still struggling for match fitness, filled in for Carlos Tevez, Mr Utility, John O’Shea, took over the left back duties from Evra, whilst Kuszczak filled in between the posts in place of the injured Van der Sar. I wondered whether Ferguson was underestimating this Sunderland side somewhat, considering we only narrowly beat them 1-0 at Old Trafford a few months previously with a much stronger team.

Like usual, fortunately Sir Alex Ferguson proved my worries unfounded, as we put four past the North East side. Whilst not surprising to see Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo on the scoresheet, it was rather intriguing to see Louis Saha put two away, due to the lack of goals he’s scored this season. Rooney did the hard work for his first goal, playing a perfect ball in to the area. However, it was Louis’ movement off the ball which enabled him to gently guide the ball in to the back of the net. He created room for himself, then darted between three defenders to get that all important touch on the ball. The second came from a penalty, Saha resuming duties with Ronaldo already being subbed off (which begs the question, who would have taken the penalty if Ronaldo was still on the field?), which Nani won.

After being on the receiving end of much criticism, from United fans as much as anyone, Louis Saha has spoken out about the importance of scoring yesterday. “After the last few games, I was a little upset with myself because I had four or five opportunities, and I could not score them,” Saha told L’Equipe. “So this time I am happy. It is very good for my state of mind. It is also reassuring as my team-mates know they can rely on me to score opportunities. The more I play, the more I get opportunities. I am improving, notably on efficiency level. But in the game, I am not satisfied. I want to bring more and I know I still have a lot of work.”

Saha has now put three past Sunderland this season, scoring the winning goal against them at Old Trafford, and when looking at his goals to starts ratio, he hasn’t faired too badly this season. He is still building up his fitness, and more importantly, his confidence, but I’m not under any delusions that scoring two against a team ripe for relegation means an awful lot. He still has a long way to go, and with the Rooney-Tevez partnership developing nicely, I see no reason why Saha should be keeping his place in the team. He’s got a long way to go to win the core of United fans back over, who would be happy enough to see him leave in January.

I think that Ferguson is handing Saha a perfect opportunity to prove himself, and yesterday, he made some progress in doing that. Saha is still not satisfied with his football, but the question is, can we ever be? Or is it too late for Saha to salvage his Manchester United career?

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. Jim says:

    Fergie will, or at least should take stock of matters at season’s end. Saha can deliver, and if he does sufficiently, he’ll be perfect, as he knows he can’t dislodge the pair of Rooney and Tevez, but will be fine rotating in, coming off the bench, and covering for injuries of the other 2. He surely feels that this sort of situation is good, given his history and Utd’s faith in him.

  2. craig mc says:

    If Saha could stay fit, he would be uppermost amongst the top scorers in the premiership. Also he is fast, and his movement off the ball and distribution of the ball is very good. He can also head the ball quite well, which Rooney and Tevez can’t really, so I think Fergie will start him in quite a few games this season.

  3. Gopher Brown says:

    I think this is all too late for Saha.

    On his day, he’s a highly effective player, but these days come around so rarely because of his injuries.

    I really hope he proves me wrong and stays injury free for the rest of the season and gets 15 goals, but realistically I can’t see it happening.

  4. senam says:

    saha is undoubtedly one of the best strikers in the world.injuries have not ben fair nto him.he is very useful to united and the best substitute for roony and tevez.i can bet on at least ten goals from him before the season ends!

  5. senam dela-seshie says:

    i’m full of praise for the frenchmam and eager to see him score more goals.i’m grateful to fergie for the faith he has in saha and has kept him though he is most of the time injured.i plead with fans to exercise patience and watch him score not less than ten goals in all competitions by the end of the season.luv u louis!!!

  6. nittin says:

    he’s gettin back to full fitness still, but hardly sum work rate, on other hand u hav tevez who works his ass out for all the tackles,making those long runs

  7. Taehr says:

    Ive always liked saha,i believe he can play a part like he did in the first half of last season.did anyone notice how well rooney played yesterday?could it have anything to do with his striking partner?

  8. k9 says:

    Saha has the uncanny knack of being at the right place at the right time. He is quick, agile and strong enough to hold his own against any defender in Europe or England. The man can also finish quite fluently but has had more than his share of problems with injuries and cannot really be blamed for that.
    He’s been a good player when fit and by far our best player in many a game. His movement and his passing, apart from the scoring threat, have opened quite a few deadlocks over the years. True he may not chase after every ball, but the ones he does chase usually produce results which serve to at least test the opposition keeper.
    To my mind, Saha is a ideally super sub, not unlike a certain legendary number 20. His injuries may not allow him all the games, but he can play in tandem with the starting pair of Wayne and Carlos. And now we’ve finally got down to adding strikers to our roster (Manucho). So I expect him to stick around and help better the squad if only in an oblique manner.

  9. franky says:

    If Saha does what he’s best at, work his a$$ off and fight for his place in the starting 11, all while accepting he has to fight for it and won’t get it for granted, he might have the same future an infamous Norwegian striker lived at OT.

    Admitted, he’s French, I’m Belgian. Everything’s set not to work out in that relationship, and when I still wrote on another ManU blog, I thought he should have been sold, but in all honesty… Saha could be our super-sub. And I don’t think he minds that role too much either. He knows that in a squad like ours no starting spot is guaranteed (maybe for VDS and RIo) and since the day he arrived at OT he has worked hard for his spot, when not injured.

    I think the depth Saha gives to a game, especially when coming on and replace Tevez, Ronaldo or Rooney, can totally disorientate a defense and change a game. And can help us win games, titles and cups.

    If Saha is as loyal to OT as Sir Alex is to him, he has a great future ahead and we can be happy having him on our bench.

    Totally unrelated, if ever or bbs online would get in touch with you, blame me! After months of reading one great article after the other, i went ahead and pitched you to them. Can’t promise a thing, and even don’t know if you’re interested, but if… yes it was me.

  10. busingye says:

    stop babying rooney.united does not play to please is not our goal.if he cant play with tevez,let him sit.afterall he is the one who scores less and tevez has more work rate.he shd play with whoever is u realise he was wasteful against sunderland?the boy has remained a prospect not a world beater we hoped.can u bet about him being top scorer?if we want him to blossom,we should stop making excuses for him.other players have blossomed coz they learned the hard a way,we are creating another raul.

  11. Christovski says:

    Rooney was fantastic against Sunderland. What the fuck are you talking about?

  12. Scott the Red says:

    Busingye – Rooney was the 4th highest scorer in the league last season, which is good enough for me considering he isn’t an out and out striker. He had the 3rd highest amount of assists in the league last season.

    11 assists, 14 goals. So Rooney was behind 25 of our 83 goals last season, so roughly, 1/3. You think we need to be making excuses for that? Strange.

  13. denton davey says:

    LouisLouis looks slow to me; he seems to be missing both the pace and anticipation that made him dangerous. Maybe it’s just a questoin of regaining match-fitness BUT maybe it’s a matter of having lost that edge that separates a top-notch striker from a journeyman.

    For what it’s worth, I would much, much rather have Kenwyne Jones as the “super sub” than Saha – he is bigger, stronger, tougher, more athletic, and on the upside of his career whereas Saha most definitely has passed his peak, sadly without ever really fully realizing his potential due to persistent injuries.

    That said, Saha is now a UTD player – and he wouldn’t fetch much in the transfer market due to his lengthy injury record – and so if he can stay fit then he’s a pretty good option to have “in reserve” since I can’t see him dislodging either Carlitos or Rooney from the first-eleven.

  14. denton davey says:

    Yesterday, Saha was again well off-the-pace.

    The best rumour I have yet to hear this season is that SAF has tried to flog LouisLouis, Wesly and some spare cash to the Spurs for Berbatov. This seems very doubtful since I have no sense that either Carlitos or Berbatov would want to play second fiddle and Rooney’s an untouchable when fit.

  15. spence says:

    Cant believe some of the comments on here; Saha one of the best strikers in the world? Please! He is a bottle job, how many one on ones does he miss? About 95% of them. Totally overated and never fit so get shot of him.

    If there is am exchange deal in the offing for Berbatov is there any way we can make Fletcher part of the deal? Makes my blood boil every time I see that useless tosser in a Utd shirt, he is utter garbage.


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