March 31, 2004

With teammates like this, who needs opponents.: Louis Saha slams ManUre teammate Ruud van Nistelrooy as not being a complete player, saying "Ruud doesn't take much part in collective play. His game is all about finishing." Is Sir Alex's newest acquisition a little big for his britches, criticising a teammate? Or is Louis just trying to light a fire under Ruud, who hasn't been finishing very often of late?

posted by scully to soccer at 08:13 AM - 18 comments

I am not sure what to think. With Sir Alex already stating that he thinks Arsenal will win the EPL, and ManUre 12 points back, it isn't likely that firing up Ruud is going to do much. This coupled with the fact that Saha and Henry—whom Saha said was a better player than van Nistelrooy—will be playing for France together against Ruud and his Dutch teammates on Wednesday, makes me wonder just what Saha could be thinking.

posted by scully at 08:24 AM on March 31

He could be trying to fire up Ruud to make ManU's season worthwhile this Saturday (i.e., stopping Arsenal in the FA cup).

posted by trox at 08:32 AM on March 31

Like I said, Trox, while ManUre is not technically out of the running for tops in the EPL, even Sir Alex has said (see link above) that Arsenal will win. This is different than previous years where Sir Alex usually comes up with some stupid psychological warfare. Not that Arsenal will win simply because Sir Alex says it, but it will be quite a swoon for them to brow a 7-12 point lead. I don't buy the idea that Saha is trying to rally his mates. I think Saha put his foot in his mouth and will regret saying what he did. It will motivate no one. Besides, Henry has already started the process of firing up his mates for Saturday's tie. I am gonna be very tired getting up at 4am on a Saturday morning to watch that match :)

posted by scully at 09:17 AM on March 31

Well, with Ruud missing** the easy* tap-in on Sunday that fortunately for Man U ended up reaching Saha for the goal it certainly seems like Saha had a good front row seat for the kind of completeness/finishing Ruud has offered lately. * not having played football in eons I might not be in a position to make much of an assessment here but my first impressions were that the cross certainly seemed close enough to him that he shoulda been able to make a shot out of it in which case it never would have made it to Saha for the goal. ** the Saha goal reminded me of the Mario Lemieux play wherein in the Salt Lake ice hockey gold medal match wherein he let the centering pass go between his legs, totally freezing the goalie, and on to Kariya who put it into the open net. The big difference being that in SLC the pass/fake non-shot had time to freeze the goalie compared to football where the ball was coming directly across the front of the goal and the keeper had so much net to cover that being frozen by a fake really wouldn't have entered into it. Plus I didn't get the sense that Ruud was faking when he didn't put the finish on that cross whereas Mario certainly was.

posted by gspm at 09:19 AM on March 31

For ManU to win they'd have to watch Arsenal swoon (they need 18 points from 8 matches to make it academic) AND pass Chelsea. Maybe the pacemaker has Fergie speaking in realistic terms.

posted by gspm at 09:22 AM on March 31

Arsenal have dropped 18 points in 30 games this season, they're hardly going to drop 13 in the last 8 games to let Man United win the league. And Man United aren't going to win 8 in a row, either.

posted by dng at 10:08 AM on March 31

Saha have proved what an arsehole he was by throwing his toys out of the cot when he wanted to leave Fulham. This just confirms it. Those who write Man U off normally do it at their cost. I can't for the life of me see Arsenal throwing away so many points though, despite their dreadful fixture congestion.

posted by squealy at 10:34 AM on March 31

So, what about Saha's comments? Will they hurt the team's chemistry or will they help fire up Ruud? What will Saha's other teammates think? I'll stop channeling MiguelCardoso now ;)

posted by scully at 10:43 AM on March 31

Ruud has responded saying that you can't compare him and Henry because they're such different players. There's also an article on the BBC website discussing this, and it basically says that Henry is no better than Ruud. I'm not convinced, but maybe that's just because I can't stand Ruud..

posted by blarp at 10:50 AM on March 31

terrapin, I would love to be watching that FA Cup tie but looking at the FSW schedule, I have the sneaking suspicion that what the network will be showing is last week's EPL match and not what you are expecting. There would be a little (L) next to it and they would show it as plain soccer or FA Cup instead of English Premier League. Sorry!

posted by billsaysthis at 11:13 AM on March 31

Billsaysthis but there is't a little "P" next to it to indicate "Premier" either. I don't know what they will air. I usually get up around 7 to take my wife to work, but I think 4 would be too early. Maybe I should just video it and check later. As long as I don't check the Web I am assured of not hearing the result. Not like ESPn is gonna give the game props after all. ;) I think you are just trying to get out of having me call you at that ungodly hour ;) blarp: I read that article too. I am still interested in what people think about how Saha's comments will effect the team and/or his relationship with Ruud. More so than whether Saha is correct in his assessment (He isn't. As the BBC article blarp pointed out shows Saha is comparing apples and oranges). Touble at Old Trafford?

posted by scully at 11:28 AM on March 31

has proved. Jeez you'd think I was drunk already, and the England game doesn't kick off for an hour. I don't know about Ruud but Saha isn't doing himself any favours in terms of selection by mouthing off like this about a teammate. Lord Fergie dislikes his players showing any signs of dissent or disagreement in the media (as evidenced by the way Jaap Stam was shown the door after writing his book).

posted by squealy at 11:29 AM on March 31

Saha wants a shot at replacing Trezeguet on the French squad but he wasn't selected for today's match. Fortunately for Saha, nobody on the French squad managed to put the ball in the net. Could be a factor. terrapin, I would be happy if that match is the FA Cup however the other problem is that the game is not being played at 10 a.m. (English time) but later in the day and I don't think that FSW has a magic time machine. Sorry.

posted by billsaysthis at 10:09 PM on March 31

Of course the real big game is the other semi on sunday, when Sunderland (or millwall I suppose) can qualify for Europe....!

posted by Brettski at 02:57 AM on April 01

Millwall. In europe. WON'T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!?!?!?!?!?! Brettski, you just *have* to beat them.

posted by BigCalm at 06:17 AM on April 01

What, Sunderland in Europe would be preferable? I DON'T THINK SO!

posted by billsaysthis at 11:18 AM on April 01

At least Sunderland in Europe are less likely to get England thrown out of the world cup - imagine Millwall in Istanbul...

posted by Brettski at 03:40 AM on April 02

Brettski, I hear your homerism in every syllable!

posted by billsaysthis at 08:09 PM on April 02

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