Louis Saha secured a top-four finish in each of his Manchester United seasons, but the Frenchman has warned the players after their humbling derby defeat against Manchester City
Manchester United’s players need to recognise playing for the Old Trafford club is no guarantee of top four football, former Red Devils striker Louis Saha tells Mirror Football.
Ralf Rangnick’s side dropped out of the Champions League places after a sobering defeat to Manchester City on Sunday, giving Arsenal the upper hand in the race for a spot at Europe’s top table.
United finished in the top four of the Premier League in each of the 21 seasons in the competition under Sir Alex Ferguson, but have only achieved the feat in four of their eight campaigns since the legendary manager’s retirement in 2013.
Ferguson’s team won the Champions League in Saha’s final season with the club, and the French international forward has urged the current squad to pay attention to how his former boss approached each new season.
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Saha joined United midway through the 2003-04 season, going on to win the title with United twice before his 2008 departure, but he was left frustrated by his former club’s performance at the Etihad Stadium.
“ Manchester City were very good, very consistent, they didn’t let United play the game – very effective on their side. But it’s more the second half of United that is disturbing,” said Saha, speaking exclusively to Mirror Football via Freebets.com .
“You can accept the fact that Manchester City will get the ball, will frustrate you for 70 minutes of the game, fine.
“But there is a response to it, especially in the derby, where there is more aggression.
“They have to improve their attitude, and accept you can miss an opportunity – I will never blame someone for missing an opportunity – but the reaction is the most important element,” he continued.
“I don’t see this [reaction], and I think I’m not the only one. If you want to get fourth spot and deserve to be in the Champions League, you have to understand it’s not a guaranteed thing and it’s not because you are playing for Man Utd – you have to actually improve your standard.
“That was the strength of Sir Alex Ferguson. He won the Champions League and the Premier League and come back to the first day of training like he had done nothing in his whole career.”
Manchester Evening News)
Saha’s comments are reminiscent of those made by his former teammate Roy Keane during the November Manchester derby, when United trailed 2-0 at half-time under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and failed to gain a foothold in the game.
“You have to show intensity and put pressure on. You’re on the ropes to stay in the game. You’re like a boxer – stay in the game!” Keane said as his former club struggled at Old Trafford.
“It was so comfortable for City. Foden’s getting interviewed there…the way I look at it, after a derby game, you should be drained, you should be exhausted and have no energy left. He was chatting there as if he had a training game.”
The defeat to City was United’s seventh Premier League reverse of the season, leaving Ralf Rangnick’s side a return of just nine points from their last six games.
Their 38 goals conceded is the worst return among the league’s top eight sides, and just six fewer than they conceded in the whole of the 2020-21 season.
United’s next Premier League game comes against another of Saha’s former sides in Tottenham Hotspur, who can leapfrog them with a victory at Old Trafford, and anything less than three points would represent another blow to their top-four hopes.