|Org||France National Team|
|Club as Player||Everton|
2018 01 23 Retrieve
[q: When arriving at Manchester United from Fulham, how different did you find it playing at such a huge club even though you’d played Premier League football before?] Things happen naturally when you are in a state of mind to compete and be the best. You don’t think twice to join Manchester United. You may have offers elsewhere but it’s a lifetime opportunity (to join Manchester United) which you take in without thinking twice. I didn’t question myself either, I knew I wanted to come right away. From Fulham or from anywhere, I would have jumped on a train! For me, in 2004, I was ready for the challenge and wanted to play with players like Scholesy (Paul Scholes) and Keano (Roy Keane)- big legends like them
[q: Who was your favourite strike partner?] I enjoyed playing with all of them but Wayne Rooney was the easiest player to pair with. He read your game so well that he would adapt - if you come short, he would go behind the defender; he would come wide for defending duties; he would do anything possible for you and make you more confident. He was easier to play with because you too could read his game.
When you play with Cristiano Ronaldo, he has all the confidence in the world but he is very hard to read. Sometimes, he would take the ball and dribble when you’d come short or he would dribble past all the defenders and make wrong choices sometimes because he was very, very focused on his own game.
He was a bit less of a team player than Wayne Rooney, for example. But he was the most talented, so you’re happy to play. With players like Van Nistelrooy, Carlos Tevez, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer- you can really learn a lot from them
[q: Manchester United have a lot of options in attack, just as they did in your days. How did Sir Alex keep all of you happy?] It was a matter of seeing (how to manage) different competitions and at the same time looking at the different stages in the season. Premier League is a marathon and not a sprint. Also, there are cup games and the Champions League- all the competitions where we want to win.
So, this is how he made sure how all players got their part. Also, this was worthy because a competition inside the club is very good. He managed us in a way that we all had our part. It’s about finding the right balance in different games and situations, I believe
[q: Is Jose Mourinho’s biggest job keeping all these different talented forwards happy?] Yes, definitely. The players are so good that they can understand the competition isn’t about one player being good and the other being average-they’re all good. The competition is about sometimes which player would play or who would play wide or as a striker- because eventually, it is all about winning trophies together. This is something they need to understand and if they don’t, then the player isn’t going to play.
This is the Premier League and this is the biggest club so you have no choice but to adapt to things. Most of the players are looking for these situations so they can work harder to improve. If they’re always in the comfort zone, it isn’t good for them. They need to be challenged
[q: Manchester United fans are known to demand an attacking brand of football. Do you think Jose Mourinho is doing justice to the fans?] It takes time and dedication to find the right balance in order to make sure that we don’t concede and still be able to create opportunities. The result is also important to Manchester United fans. The tradition is always going to be attacking (brand of football) but (Jose) Mourinho isn’t of the same tradition and we need to understand and respect that.
We have to give him the credit for the two trophies won last year. We have two amazing players in (Jesse) Lingard and (Marcus) Rashford from the academy. Mourinho will keep us improving and maybe with Alexis Sanchez coming, it could get better. We can’t ask for everything in a year.
[q: What is your prediction for the Premier League season and the Champions League campaign?] I really feel (Manchester) United has a good draw in the Champions League so they can go definitely to the last four. We may be short at the moment but I feel confident of this side to go all the way. In the Premier League, we are behind right now and Manchester City need to drop points and we need to make sure we don’t lose any. That’s going to be a challenge but I believe we are definitely going to be at the number two or number three position to get in the Champions League and get the consistency back as being the biggest club
[q: France had a good campaign at the 2016 Euros despite bowing down to Portugal in the finale. In order to compete for the winning trophy, in what departments do they need improvement, going into the World Cup?] I think they need improvement in the defence- where they have to be sure of their tactics, their way of coming forward. Up-front there is (Anthony) Martial, (Antoine) Griezmann- they are amazing players. Going forward is fine but they need to find the right balance defensively, making sure of the confidence on the ball
2018 10 09 Retrieve
[Pogba slammed by former Man Utd forward Saha over Mourinho comments] I think he has done it on purpose, and I don’t think that is right. It’s the wrong communication. It puts pressure on the manager. With those talks, you should do it in the dressing room with your manager. You know that people will question it, so don’t do it. This is my opinion and I would have said that to him. I would have said ‘no, that’s not something to say because you’re not the manager’.
Sometimes I see a bit too much ego, as a fan sometimes I find it very disturbing. Yes, I think there are things that should not be done from the players’ side and from the manager and above. There is definitely things going on where [it] is completely wrong and there is so much potential that you still have hope that things can be fixed
2018 12 23 Retrieve
[Saha backs United caretaker Solskjaer to impress] He is there for the transition but I think he wants to prove that he is able to stay longer. Maybe he will try to build confidence in the first weeks or months, and why not build this aura that we are looking for, with stability and an identity, like the one we had with Sir Alex Ferguson.
He was an offensive player, like Sir Alex Ferguson. I remember how focused he was during the training sessions. He was always trying to repeat some situations. He was very strong with his right foot, so he was doing the same kind of race again and again, the same efforts that will allow him to be in good conditions to score goals. We had five or six strikers. If you scored, you’d play. If you didn’t score, you were in the audience. So you have to find a way to be consistent. I think that’s what he will bring [consistency].
[And Saha cited a lack of communication and philosophy as the reasons for Mourinho’s failure] It is clear there was a solidity. But at one point, we felt we were always in transition. There were a lack of information about the philosophy. When you sign a manager like Mourinho, you know what he will bring.
There is no surprise. He was true to form [as we know him]. He made his own choices with the communication. Nothing surprising. When you sign a coach like him, you know you will win titles. But I think that something was missing for some players. Maybe there was a lack of guidance. So there was a clash. When you have a coach with that pedigree, there are good things and bad things. That’s why usually he [Mourinho] doesn’t stay more than two or three years in a club.
2018 12 24 Retrieve
[The former Manchester United striker has explained why Paul Pogba sometimes struggles in more disciplined roles ] The issue with the word ‘boss’ is that, at some stage, a boss needs to be consistent. You need to be well-perceived in the group.
That’s today’s criticism towards Paul. We need to understand him. Some weeks, he’s been outstanding. That’s what we expect from a player as talented as he is.
I think that his problem is that he has so many qualities that it’s complicated to keep him in one specific position, even box-to-box or in the defensive tasks, when he can score or make the difference anyway. I think those elements are difficult for him as a player.
He can do it because he did it with Didier Deschamps. He can do it with any team or coach. It’s not a behavioural problem but an analysis one. He must tell himself: ‘Okay, for that specific game, I need to do a certain job’. I think it’s not easy for him.
[Saha hopes Solskjaer can be a positive influence on Pogba given his selfless nature as a player and a coach] Ole has a lot of humility and it can help in their communication. He will put his ego aside as ‘boss’ and he’ll tell himself that today the team goes first.
It is what Ole does. He’s always done it. He made great sacrifices for his team-mates. He’s made the difference for his team-mates and his coach. That’s Ole. He will give that [to the team].
That’s a message he’ll give gradually to all the players. They need to get their confidence back. They almost need some paternal communication. A misplaced pride in a great club constantly under the scrutiny of everyone. Whatever will happen, there they’ll talk about it because it’s one of the most followed clubs in the world
2019 06 01 Retrieve
[The former Manchester United striker has spoken out in defence of a fellow Frenchman, claiming it is not his job to be a leader at Old Trafford] I am really a big fan of Paul. You target leadership for the best players in the team and Paul is definitely one of them, so the pressure is always on him. But it’s unfair on him to have this burden all of the time because the set-up of the team is not built with leaders around him – and perhaps that is not his best quality.
Of course, he brings a special quality because he can do special things, but I don’t think leadership is his strength. So let’s find the right people to be around him because he can do magic. That’s what he has been bought by United to do – rather than as a Roy Keane-type or others that you can compare. When I see what is happening with Paul, I would say it is unfair to ask him to do something unnatural to him
[Anthony Martial has faced similar struggles for consistency, but he is another that Saha believes remains integral to the Red Devils cause] Of course, they have great talent and I have to say I’m jealous. It is as simple as that. You look at those guys and they can do everything. But the thing is it’s unfair to focus on one aspect of their game that is not one of their strong qualities.
As for Anthony, he is the type of player, who, on his day, is unplayable, but, again, he needs a role model that will give him a target to go for and set a tone for working harder.
In my view, it’s not fair to target those two French players. It is about the squad and the squad right now is not there. Every day in a group is about getting the best out of the personnel.For instance, a player like Gary Neville was essential for me as a striker. Every day he would be there on my back making sure I get it. I knew that every time I missed an opportunity or a dribble then he would be on my back. Those days have gone now and that is why I think Ole has some work to do. I think United have to find some new leaders
2019 07 04 Retrieve
[Paul Pogba’s behaviour blasted by former Manchester United star Saha] I am a bit annoyed by [what Pogba said], but what can you do? I struggle to understand why players express themselves (in this way). As much as they want to move, I understand that, but I don’t think it is something that should be done. I am especially gutted because he is a massive player for the club.
I hope that he can still remain [with United], but it is difficult to see that because when you express something like this, it becomes a difficult situation to manage. It is not going to be easy for Ole
There is a transition period for United, but that is not the case for France. There was no lack of stability with the manager for France
The situation is not the same for United. They are still trying to find their feet back since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson.
These are some things that can give an indication of why he has struggled. Because he is a big and talented player, sometimes people expect him to do too much.
He had a tremendous season, but people will still expect more
2019 09 02 Retrieve
[Louis Saha believes Paul Pogba is the only world-class player at Manchester United right now] He’s got the potential to be one of the best - Ballon d’Or potential. No disrespect to the other players but he could say ‘I’m the only one here who could claim to be a world-class player right now’. At the same time, he’s always going to be on the spot because he is the only one. If he doesn’t perform there’s no-one that’s going to be asked more from. Pogba tries his best but sometimes there’s no-one there to help him. And who’s going to get criticised for not performing? It’s going to be Pogba
[Despite his own transfer desires, Saha praised Pogba’s on-field response after finding himself still wearing a United shirt] He could have hidden, said he didn’t want to play, but the first couple games he really did perform. He represents so much in terms of potential for United that they ask him to be perfect but he can’t because he’s human
2019 09 03 Retrieve
[Saha questions logic of Inter loan agreement because Sanchez switch is a bad deal for Man Utd] It’s a strange one. I think Alexis got to a point where his confidence dropped. The terms of the agreement show he needed to move.
He’s a great player with an abundance of skills and passion. But he couldn’t deliver for United, so having a deal where United pays is a bad deal. You would think he could remain there and help the side but mentally it was too exhausting. That’s why he wanted to move – he didn’t feel appreciated. It was really hard for him. The decision is not sustainable
2019 11 16 Retrieve
[Louis Saha on Cristiano Ronaldo] Cristiano was just an animal. I don’t know if you can say that he was a human! You could see from when he was 18 or 19 that this guy was not normal. These players who have all the ability recognise that it’s also about working harder than anyone – not just talent. The top seeds in tennis don’t hit the ball better or have better technique; no, they work harder than anyone, and Cristiano did that
2019 12 19 Retrieve
[Former Everton and France forward Louis Saha was among those to predict a long and tough period of transition] Kean is a great signing for Everton but he is going to need time to adapt. I can’t see him hitting the ground running
2020 04 17 Retrieve
[Saha - who also enjoyed spells at Everton, Spurs, Sunderland and Lazio - was also present to take part in the debate via a video link, and explained how he managed to give defenders the slip on a consistent basis] I was really aware that most of the defenders liked to be tight so that was the kind of movement I was trying to master. It’s a combination - you need to use different types to try and upset the defender - especially when they tried to kick you as well!
2020 05 07 Retrieve
[Former Manchester United team-mate Louis Saha says Cristiano Ronaldo was always destined for greatness] He always improved but I would say that his ways never changed [as a person]. Throughout his career, you see the same dedication that he had when he was 18, maybe with less confidence as people were challenging him, and he had to prove that he was the best player. But to have that type of confidence to train, to work hard and to be consistent, no matter what people say, that was just an amazing skill. It was better than having talent because the way he was able to analyse, at that age, and grow and maintain those qualities - for me, it was genius. You ask anybody - working hard when you have that much talent, not everybody does this. You can get complacent or happy with your level and you think you have made it. But he wanted it way more. To have the vision to see something way more, when you’re already at United, at his age, it’s really hard. He managed to do that and that’s why I respected him so much
Even though he was younger than me, I remember he said to me: ‘Louis you need to smile more when you play’. When the kids say that to you, when you’re older and have more experience, you say: ‘Hang on a minute’. But I realised it was so true. During his career, he could be cheeky in the way that he spoke to people, and people just could not understand and got frustrated because they were not in his league. He’s so above everybody that, when he speaks normally, it sounds strange for everybody. It’s amazing. His power and speed … the skills were one thing that are important in a career, but analysing when to do it - the timing and the precision - nobody can do that
2020 06 11 Retrieve
[Former France and Manchester United striker Louis Saha says Mbappe is ‘the most valuable player on Earth’, and claims it is only natural clubs such as Real Madrid should be sniffing around] He’s completely in control of his own destiny. He’s already a man at his young age. He’s very mature, he knows what he wants. He doesn’t hide and that’s to his credit. At his age he manages to defy physics, he goes super fast. Anything we do in the normal way will be different for him, period. I think he’s an exceptional player who makes the biggest clubs dream, which is normal. He’s the most valuable player on Earth. So, it’s normal for him to dream about things that other people or players wouldn’t understand
[Saha understands why such talk has endured, particularly given Mbappe has just two years remaining on his contract] I think that at some point, when you’re in a club like Paris which is still developing, which is not at the level of Real, Barca or other clubs like Juventus, inevitably, without disrespect to the club … it will always remain a rumour. As long as he doesn’t sign [a new contract], it will always remain a rumour. Because he’s a great player, he has to deal with it
2020 06 11b Retrieve
[Fellow Frenchman Saha says Pogba, who has recovered from the injuries that have disrupted his season, is now determined to contribute to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team when English football resumes this month] He’s one of the best players in the world. He had a tough season plagued by injuries. He came back very motivated, that’s what some of the players told me. When I talk to him on the phone, he’s super motivated, so I really want to see not a new Pogba, but Pogba with support. I don’t think he was supported. Now he has Bruno Fernandes next to him, who’s another leader, another creator. I’m really excited about that sharing of the responsibilities, I really want to watch that team.
[Saha, a United player from 2004 to 2008, accepts Pogba will be linked with other clubs at the end of the season] The season is almost over and with the transfer market, his name will probably be in the box. But he’s very motivated, he’s incredibly talented, he already proved himself, but now he has a better platform to improve and shut down the critics, sometimes justified
[Saha praised Martial’s development this season, in which he has become a regular scorer for United] I’m a real fan of Anthony. I was frustrated maybe a year ago because I knew his potential but, on the pitch, I saw him lost left or right. The guy, he can do anything, he’s got huge potential
2020 06 12 Retrieve
[Louis Saha says Marcus Rashford has changed his attitude to become a proper leader for Manchester United] Yes, I think the attitude, the drive, the actual consistency, all those things are leadership qualities. You said that sometimes it’s really hard for a striker to lead and, if you do, you need that. You need those three: consistency, drive, and, of course, talent. What is very important is having that dedication to actually look around and grab someone who needs to be grabbed and shout at them. All those things are essential. They don’t have that platform as much as I had when I was playing. I had Roy Keane, Phil Neville, Gary Neville, Rio [Ferdinand], Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, [Paul] Scholes, [Ryan] Giggs, all those players. You could rely on those guys. There are definitely four or five players who are very important to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. I would say that, based on [his] record, he is not young anymore, almost because he started really young. He’s one of the starters for England. And Rashford, as much as we can compare to Anthony [Martial] has done the same. The attitude… I’m not saying they had a bad attitude; they had the attitude that was in line with what Manchester United needed at the time. Maybe this attitude was okay when you had leaders around like proper players who win trophies and all that, and it was fine. Maybe I was like this at the time, but I had players to do what I can’t do. I had to actually evolve and be a leader. When I spoke to Scott McTominay, he was young as well, he had to do it. All those players who made that improvement process for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer were very important, and I think for Rashford, the introduction of [Harry] Maguire was important to give that kind of confidence aspect. That’s why you give the platform for Rashford to make the difference all the time because he can do it because his work rate is amazing and that thing he maybe missed in one year because maybe he thought ‘I’ve got my position, I’m respected, I’ve got my status so I don’t need to do this or that’. Those things can be a bad sign for those playing behind you. Now you can see he is a proper leader.
2020 06 15 Retrieve
[Louis Saha has expressed his belief that Jadon Sancho would be a good fit for Manchester United. Asked if the England international would be a good signing for his old club] Totally, yes. He is a player that is uncatchable, he’s clever, quick, very precise. He’s got the legs, the stamina, the quality. He’s very creative for that type of player. When you have all those things, like I said about speed and creativity, but precise as well. So, imagine how deadly these things are. You can’t stop the guy and at the same time, he is very precise because he knows how to stop when passing the ball. It’s really hard because players, for example, Anthony [Martial] and [Marcus] Rashford, it can be hard for them because most of the time they’re going so quick so it’s hard to deliver the good pass like Juan Mata would do. Sancho has got that ability to address the right passes, the right weight of the pass because of his intelligence
2020 06 24 Retrieve
[Louis Saha says Marcus Rashford and Kylian Mbappe are definitely in the same bracket] Ability-wise? Yes. They’re both very fast players, they have the technical ability to get out of situations where they’re surrounded by two or three defenders
In terms of positions, Marcus and Kylian are quite similar. They like to play out wide but have also played up top. Kylian’s strength is that he is very direct, all the time. He doesn’t think twice. When he makes runs, you have to give him the ball, he’s so quick. That kind of directness is something we’ve also seen from Rashford. When he started, he was asking questions of defenders – ‘are you quick enough and good enough to keep me quiet for 90 minutes?’ In terms of quality, they’re definitely in the same bracket. Mbappe has been able to achieve more consistency and approach the game without having to think too much. With United, Rashford has been part of a team in transition, so he couldn’t really express himself. He had to be a leader when perhaps it wasn’t his strength at first. He had to build qualities which should not have been his initial focus. Mbappe has taken advantage because he’s been able to play with PSG players who are at the very top level, so he’s been able to build confidence and try different things, a platform that Rashford hasn’t had so far
2020 06 24b Retrieve
[Louis Saha says Manchester United would be stupid not to try and sign Harry Kane this summer] When you’re talking about Harry Kane – a proper striker. When you see how many goals he scores each season, I would be stupid not to consider him. He’s a world-class striker. I know Werner is quite young, but he’s a prolific goalscorer. There’s definitely talent out there in the league and we have to catch up, we need a guaranteed 30-goal striker who is able to create some magic out of nothing, like Van Persie was able to do, removing the burden of having to play well as a side. This is what wins titles. There are six to eight sides competing at the top, plus, there’s so much quality everywhere now, you need competition within the team too