Louis Saha

Louis Saha previews clash of former clubs

Wednesday 20 January 2021 07:00

Ex-Red Louis Saha is expecting a tough test when Manchester United make the trip down south to play his former club Fulham on Wednesday.

The Cottagers, who have gone down in each of their last two top-flight campaigns, endured a tough start to the season, picking up just four points from their opening nine games.

However, even if results have not improved quite enough to lift the capital club out of the relegation zone, performances have certainly been encouraging since mid-November, with manager Scott Parker blooding an entirely new defence than the one which secured Championship promotion through the play-offs.

The top-table, winning experience of loanees Alphonse Areola (Real Madrid) and Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea), blended with the talent of youngsters Joachim Andersen, Antonee Robinson and Ademola Lookman, have given Fulham fans plenty of reasons for optimism in recent times.

Parker's side are four points from 17th-placed Burnley and, although Saha believes survival is still a difficult ask, he thinks the Londoners have more than enough about them to threaten United on Wednesday.

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Craven Cottage classic: 2006/07

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“Yes I think Scott has a better squad, not really better players but they are more composed and look less naive,” Saha told us ahead of the game.

“Still, the Premier League is really, really tough. We’ve seen Arsenal, for example, struggling at points because the league is very demanding, week in, week out. The intensity and tactical awareness most teams have now makes it really competitive, but that’s good for the fans.

“For Fulham, it’s a big task [to survive]. I will say around March or April they need to pick up points against direct opposition, I would think.”

Saha made his name in English football with the Cottagers, who he played for between 2000 and 2004 after a brief loan spell with Newcastle in 1998/99.

The man supporters called ‘King Louis’ fired Fulham to a first campaign in the top flight since the 1960s, when they gained promotion in 2000/01. He also maintained an impressive scoring record in the Premier League, notching twice against the Reds in their season opener the following campaign, and helping the West London club lay the groundwork for a dozen-year spell among the big boys.

The former France international would go on to win a host of trophies during his time at Old Trafford, and he believes his performances against United – fuelled by a carefree desire to perform against the best – partly convinced Sir Alex Ferguson to make him his new no.9 in January 2004.

“I think it’s always a part [of the decision to buy] when you perform well against another side. This side see the best of you,” continued Louis.

“Yes, it’s definitely an element. It’s strange. The reason why [I played well against United], I don’t know, but I felt like most of the time it was because I had nothing to lose.

“I was playing against the best squad, the best team, with the best history, so it’s normal if I fail. There was no pressure, so it was good fun.”