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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Rooney injury offers Saha an opportunity in last chance saloon

When reading about Wayne Rooney’s injury yesterday, as Manchester United supporter I was first filled with dread and then, surprisingly optimism.

Rooney’s injury means he is likely to miss United’s upcoming Premier League fixtures against Blackburn, Bolton, Fulham and Derby as well as the remaining Champions League group fixtures.

But he will also miss England’s crucial qualifier against Croatia. Rooney’s international performances since Euro 2004 have been mixed, but he has been in scintillating form in recent weeks scoring nine goals in his last nine games. England simply must beat Croatia and I would argue that Rooney will be missed by England more than he will by United.

His injury is also obviously bad news for United. However, with United having already made the last 16 in the Champions League and, on paper at least, winnable fixtures in the league, Rooney’s absence will offer the mercurial Louis Saha a chance to shine in his latest comeback from injury.

Saha’s luck with injuries has been nothing short of shocking. It is telling that whenever I think of Saha, I am reminded of Samuel L Jackson’s character in the film “Unbreakable”! Since joining United in January 2004 at Old Trafford he has managed only 108 appearances – limited mainly by injury.

However, what cannot be doubted is Saha’s talent on the pitch. Despite his limited number of appearances he has still scored 39 goals for United. His aerial ability, link up play, strength and eye for goal marks him out as the perfect alternative to the skills which Carlos Tevez and Rooney possess. Saha’s sublime reverse pass for Patrice Evra which led to Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal against Arsenal epitomises for me the value of having Saha at Old Trafford. As Sir Alex said recently, "Louis does more for the team in the sense of his physical presence, his speed, his two-footedness and is good in the air."

I think everybody at the club knows that if United are to have a successful season, Saha will have to remain fit and confident and that is why the United players have rallied round him. Witness the whole team encouraging him to take the last minute penalty against Chelsea despite him no longer being our regular penalty taker.

Sir Alex has recently, until Rooney's injury yesterday, intimated that Saha will be used predominantly as a substitute. So if Saha wants to prove that he is better than just a sub, Rooney's injury has comme at an excellent time for him.

I have no doubt whatsoever that United will look to purchase another striker in January if Saha fails to capitalise on this latest chance. They simply cannot afford to play the season with only Rooney and Tevez up front. So, unless Saha wants to face the prospect of being fourth choice striker or indeed an exit from the club, he really does need to try and stay injury free deliver the performances everyone knows he can.


Blogger Skipper said...

I have Rooney in my FF team, so I think the team that will suffer the most as result of the latest injury set-back is not England or Man U, but my team.

On a serious note, any team in the world would miss Rooney. I agree with Abdul, United will cope without Rooney. Saha has been so unlucky with injuries, it is time for him to step up and play some regular football.

11/10/2007 1:00 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

They say one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter? One man's injury is another man's opportunity in football. Rooney out again for weeks means Saha must be odds on to be alongside Tevez against Blackburn and I'm looking at this partnership being more lethal. Either player can hang up field on their own, either player can be the link man and if you have Tevez dropping deep to collect and thread through Saha, the Frenchman has pace.

But it is harldy like that with Utd, both will simply move around and get into the game as much as they can, making it difficult for defenders to know which of them is likely to attack them the most. You could have Saha coming wide, Tevez likewise, and Ronaldo coming through instead. Certainly out of the two, England will miss Rooney the most. Unless a certain Crouch can start grabbing goals between now and the crucial Croatia clash.


11/10/2007 5:11 pm


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