Goodbye, Unluckiest United Player Of The Decade
Louis Saha is set to join Everton, subject to passing a medical which in his case cannot be regarded as a mere formality.
I, unlike many fellow United fans, feel a deep sadness at this parting. Here is a player who was a striker of the highest calibre, I really think so. After his dream debut in January 2004 - a brace against Southampton in an exciting game we won 3-2 - he never really could live up to the expectations.
And not because of lack of talent. Whenever given an extended run in the team, Saha performed well. He was an excellent focal point of the attack when fully fit, his pace and mobility always caused serious problems.
However, fully fit he rarely was. During four and a half years he made only 124 appearances - and even this number is deceptively high as he was only a late substitute on countless occasions.
His best year, by far, was 2006: he managed to oust Ruud van Nistelrooy from the starting line-up then he was the key figure as United made a storming start to next season. This latter contribution is often forgotten as Ronaldo and Rooney both went on to outshine him during that campaign as he missed the second half of it almost entirely (yet Chelsea still blamed the title defeat on injuries...).
But we should remember that on the autumn of 2006 Ronaldo was far from the devastating form he would show during the winter and then in 2007 and 2008. Rooney was distinctly off-colour and it was Saha who was easily our most impressive attacking player since December: his goal and overall contribution against Chelsea being the standout performance.
So, I think he played a huge part in winning the title (and banishing the ghost of the previous season's Champions League exit with a sublime winner at Benfica) and I opt to remember this, not the neverending annoyance he caused with his ever recurring injury troubles.
Very few players spent as much time in the treatment room during their careers as Saha - I think even Bryan Robson can only be a close second. Some said Saha had a mental problem, that's why he could never shake these off. Personally, I think anyone believes what they want to believe: I choose to believe that Louis Saha was the unluckiest Manchester United player of this decade.
Good luck to him, hopefully he'll be able to revive his career at Everton.