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Louis Saha Exclusive: Champions League Can Be Achieved

Louis Saha Exclusive: Champions League Can Be Achieved

Former Manchester United striker Louis Saha believes his old club can finish in the Premier League's top four, despite a disappointing campaign so far. The Red Devils find themselves seventh in the table after 21 games, ahead of their crucial clash with fourth-placed West Ham at Old Trafford. The Hammers are just two points ahead and have played a game more, but the race for the final Champions League spot is complicated by Tottenham and Arsenal in fifth and sixth – who have played 19 and 20 matches, respectively. However, Saha is convinced that United have the capacity to overcome the odds and can leapfrog their rivals with the right attitude and application.



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Qualification Possible

Speaking exclusively to Genting, he said: “After the disappointment of being knocked out in the Champions League group stage last year, I thought United recovered well and went on a good run in the second half of the season to finish second. 

“I hope we will see something similar from now until May. I think that United can qualify for the Champions League with this squad. 

“They have winners. They have talented players, and they have to fight. They have to really believe. 

“Football and the industry of sport is not about talking – it’s about what you do on the pitch. 

“I think when three or four of United’s big players click at the same time, and if Marcus Rashford can come back to his level, they can achieve anything.”

Performances Not Met Expectations

Saha did admit to having expected more from United this season, after an eye-catching summer transfer window.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s sensational return was the highlight, but the Paris native explained that the Portuguese’s individual brilliance alone is not enough for a title charge. 

“When you sign players like [Raphael] Varane, [Jadon] Sancho and Ronaldo, big players with huge talent, then of course, expectations will come with that,” he explained.

“Ronaldo and Varane have won so many trophies throughout their careers, it is unbelievable. 

“Of course, some people expect Ronaldo to be the answer to all of United’s problems, but that isn’t how football works. And he will always be a target for criticism because he’s Ronaldo. 

“Raphael Varane is a great defender. He has had a few injuries, which hasn’t helped. Football is about the squad and United need to get the most out of all of their players. 

“Bruno Fernandes this season hasn’t been quite the same player, although it was great to see him score twice against Villa and set up two goals against Brentford.

“For a team to be consistent and to challenge for the championship, you need the foundation of seven or eight players who perform week in, week out. 

“We’ve seen Cristiano can produce moments of magic to save the team in some matches, but that is not enough to win you a title. 

“It is hard to accept that at the moment, with the investment in the team, that United are not close to challenging for the title.”




Fear Factor Gone

One thing Saha feels United have lost since they were last genuine contenders for the Premier League trophy is the “fear factor” legendary boss Alex Ferguson brought to Old Trafford.

“If you look at some of the results over the last three or four years, something has changed at Old Trafford,” he said.

“There are a few reasons. Firstly, I don’t think that you can underestimate the presence that Sir Alex had. 

“He had a power that almost intimidated everybody; be that opponents, referees. Managers would turn up in awe of Sir Alex and he isn’t there anymore. 

“Secondly, I think that this is a different United team to the one that I played in. The players were more vocal. They were more experienced – they had all won things and were at the top level.

“That is why I think the fear factor has been lost. It is a combination of aggression, talent and sometimes arrogance. 

“This United team doesn’t have the consistency to create these qualities, but they have shown that on their day they can beat anyone.”

Team Work

According to Saha, the Red Devils’ squad must learn to work as a team and be prepared to battle on the pitch, if they are to return the club to the top of the English game.

“United need a strong foundation in defence and midfield,” he concluded. “They need to be really difficult for teams to break down and hard to beat. 

“Then the team can rely on the talent of its attacking players to hurt the opposition. 

“The team was built on the basic principle of hard work and sacrifice – that is what United need to get back to. 

“At the moment, I see a lot of individuals and not a team. I think this United team needs seven or eight warriors, players that deliver performances week in, week out. 

“If you want to win a championship, you need to have this foundation.”

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