I’ve had more time for Louis Saha than a lot of reds I know. Those who sit around me at Old Trafford have called him all the names under the sun in the few appearances he’s made for us this season. “You lazy bastard” is the most frequent insult.
This season, when he has played, he hasn’t had any match fitness. He can’t seem to run much, or is unwilling to. Like any striker, he’s missed good opportunities, but it seems so much worse when he’s hitting wide of the target. Every chance he misses could be his last opportunity to put ball in the back of the net for United.
I understand the complaints of fellow reds, however I can’t help but have sympathy for the guy. It was Ruud van Nistelrooy that made me appreciate Saha and I’ve struggled to shrug off those feelings. Back in the 2005/2006 season, Ruud was our starter, with Saha waiting patiently for his chances from the bench. He played in all our League Cup games and was the highest scorer in the competition. Winning that trophy was some consolation for an otherwise disappointing two seasons. After the barren year of 2004/2005, we finally had something to put in the trophy cabinet and something to give us hope for the next season.
Deciding to start Saha and not play Ruud in that League Cup final really began to show the differences between the two players. Whilst Ruud has always been a better striker, he was exposed as a self-obsessed sulk. He felt he was above sitting on the bench, working for his place in the team. In contrast, Saha had spent his entire United career doing just that. When he came off the bench, he gave 100%, eager to do well for the club.
However, enough is enough, and whilst I really do rate him for spending so many years trying to do the best for our team, and am appreciative for his contributions in the 2006-2007 season, his injuries mean it is time for him to leave.
Both his knees are knackered now and it’s too much of a risk to rely on a player like that. In our first title winning season since 2003, Saha remained fit all the way through the season up until March, which was impressive for him, but still not good enough. He missed all of the Champions League quarter and semi finals matches, as well as the FA Cup semi and final. We can’t afford to have a player who goes AWOL when they’re most needed.
Saha has recognised as much today, indicating he knows he will be sold in the summer.
“I know it [the final] could be my last game, and I would understand if the manager went for another striker,” he said. “It would be painful if he did and it’s painful even to talk about it because I love the club so much. But it’s been very hard for me this season. This is the best and biggest club in the world and the fact is that I’ve had very few chances. I do get miserable when I am injured and it’s very tense for my family because I want to play and I want to win things, so when that chance is taken away from me I can’t help but be in a bad mood. I’m 29 now and I wanted to improve again this year because that’s what you have to do at a club like this. But it’s difficult when you get injured. You are staying in the same place all the time.”
Louis Saha, 115 appearances, 76 starts, 42 goals, two league titles, one League Cup. Thank you, but goodbye.