By News Team
5th March 2021
The Manchester derby takes place this weekend, and former Red Devils striker Louis Saha has described his favourite moment in this fixture from a game he didn’t even play in – when Wayne Rooney scored his famous overhead kick.
The Frenchman claims he has picked that moment because he counts himself as a Manchester United fan first and foremost, and that’s the first Manchester derby moment that springs to mind for him.
He said: “I see myself as a Manchester United fan, and my favourite moment in a Manchester derby is Wayne’s overhead kick.
“You may dislike United or support another team, but this moment in a derby you have to appreciate it. It was unbelievable.
“I thank Rooney for this moment because this is what it’s all about in derbies! My favourite memory is this one.”
Rooney recently picked Saha as one of his favourite striker partners of all time, and the Frenchman remembers their time together at Old Trafford with fond memories.
Saha said: “The guy was so smart as a footballer that anyone could have played with him. He could defend for you, and he’d assist and score goals. He could do everything.
“I was maybe more aggressive aerially, which complimented his style and quality. When I would go short, he would go in behind. And we worked well for the wingers too, so it was a great partnership.”
Looking ahead to this weekend’s fixture, Saha acknowledges that Manchester City are way in front of every other Premier League side, but that his former team can still make this game interesting.
He said: “I don’t see any particular team coming out on top for this one, and I think it will be a goalscoring draw. I’ll say 2-2 as my prediction.”
The derby will see two of the Premier League’s current finest players go head-to-head in Kevin De Bruyne and Bruno Fernandes, and Saha admits he’s relishing the prospect of this individual battle.
He said: “On current form, Bruno Fernandes is the player most in form, as he has played every game and is scoring goals for fun.
“Of course, both players are great, and Kevin De Bruyne has consistently been incredible over a long period of time, but on current form Bruno looks more effective and has impacted more games recently.”
And Saha believes Fernandes doesn’t have any critics to answer to with just one goal against top six sides in his time at Old Trafford.
He said: “It’s not just him, as everyone needs to step up. When you play for a big side you need to play as a team and players need to lead by example.
“It’s impossible to ask one player to do a big job and in big games especially they need to turn up. You need every big player to step up. When Bruno Fernandes isn’t scoring, or another of their top players isn’t on form, someone else fills in for the team and that’s how you win a championship.
“It needs a bit more from everyone – maybe a few more goals in a season from players such as Scott McTominay, Fred or Harry Maguire. That can make the difference in a full season.”
The retired striker admits he misses playing in English football, and that it was a match made in heaven when he arrived as a young player with his career ahead of him.
He said: “I fell in love with it. I saw it on TV and I could see the intensity and the emotion of the fans too. When I came here, the ‘show’ was what I always dreamed about.
“Before I arrived in England, I was at a team that was quite tense and serious, where the younger players couldn’t speak to the senior players and it was intimidating. It wasn’t normal.
“But when I came to England, at Newcastle, Alan Shearer was my captain and he welcomed me straight away. There was laughing and singing in the dressing room and it was great to be a part of it.
“When the whistle went, Shearer was a different animal and wanted to win games. Other players were like this too. That type of attitude impressed me.”
But it was Manchester United where Saha had his best years in football, and his time playing under Sir Alex Ferguson was what left the biggest impression on him.
He said: “Manchester United for sure, was my favourite. In all aspects, it was the best. You had the competitiveness, all training sessions were hard, but you had great rewards and I felt like it was all worth it.
“I enjoyed the simplicity of the so-called ‘stars’ such as Paul Scholes and Roy Keane because they worked hard but were very nice guys and down to earth.
He continued: “Working under Sir Alex Ferguson was a great experience. He taught us how to be courageous and bring different things together to be successful in different aspects of life.
“I always felt that the best advice he gave me was to express the quality that I have. That helped me massively.”