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All Things Footie | Wednesday, January 14 | Jordan

Better late than never

So Louis Saha seems to have decided he’s going to United, and if you ask me it’s a rather peculiar transfer. I don’t see Saha in the same light everyone else seems to see him, I see the washed up Newcastle reject forging himself a decent living in a mid-table side, good, but not good enough to be a top Premiership player. I could be wrong, and Fulham are the real winners from this £9.8m deal, though I’ll be interested to see how he settles in at United; it’s been a while since they had a pacey front man with a bit of skill, I wonder how Van Nistelrooy will react? I actually think he quite likes being United’s sole goal getter, it makes him feel good. The question I’d ask if I were on the board of United is; if they needed to spend £10m on a new forward, why was so much money spent of Bellion, Ronaldo and Forlan? If I were Mr Ferguson, I would have thrown Ronaldo up-front (where he has played all his career so far) and tried to buy Steed Malbranque from Fulham—he’s their real star.

For every one in, there’s one out, and Nicky Butt—a man whom Ferguson himself said was the most promising of the Giggs / Beckham / Scholes / Neville generation—has handed in a transfer request, presumably tired of being second choice to Eric Djemba-Djemba and Kleberson. If it were Arsenal, they’d be blamed for killing English football by choosing foreigners over home grown talent (and key England Internationals), but it’s not, so it’s just ‘time to move on’ for Butt. I’ve never been his greatest fan, but I’d pick him over Djemba-Djemba or Kleberson any day; just as I’d pick Ray Parlour over Gilberto and Edu—there’s something about having a club in your veins that makes an average footballer a great player.

If I can just skirt around last weekend, the best thing was undoubtably that bald, irksome thug Danny Mills getting his comeuppance at the hands (well, the twinkle toes) of Thierry Henry, not the best man to wind up in a game he may otherwise have strolled through. The nutmeg as Mills tried to shield the ball at the corner flag was a sublime example of justified arrogance. If I were Steve Mclaren I’d be very worried about facing this side three more times—even if two of them sees a shadow XI. As it happens, I think Arsenal’s strength through these potential bore-a-thons will be their ability to freshen the starting line up; keeping the side hungry and more determined to do well. Gareth Southgate and Ugo Ehigou for England? Don’t make me laugh (an opinion far from solely based on their performance at Highbuiry by-the-way). Changing the subject, I think Youri Djorkaeff’s sublime chip from an acute angle in Bolton’s fantastic 4-3 win at Ewood park, was one of the best goals I’ve seen this season. Great game too.

Last night’s FA Cup replays were a bit of a let down, Kidderminster, Accrington, all let-downs, but well done Tranmere—you couldn’t have beaten a nicer team. Talking of Bolton, and more specifically Sam Allardyce, I wholeheartedly agree with him regarding his opinions of Trever Brooking’s appointment as FA Technical Director. I never thought I’d say that, but for once, Allardyce has hit the nail on the head. Firstly, as Sam says, Brooking is wholly unqualified, and I don’t care is he’s taking his UEFA badge now—there are enough men who know the game far better than Brooking who already have it. Secondly, he’s far too closely associated with certain football clubs, and certain current and ex-professionals to be impartial. Thirdly, his view of the game is simplistic in the extreme. Finally, he talks complete and utter nonsense 99% of the time. I gave up trying to reason with the FA a long time ago, we must just sit back and accept that it’s up to the clubs and the players to keep the game great.

A final word for Mr David Seaman, who announced his retirement yesterday after a series of shouolder injuries. Second only to Gordon Banks in England’s goalkeeping history (don’t anyone even mention the curly-permed tit Shilton), the country—as well as Arsenal fans—owe a debt to the giant Yorkshireman. It’s a terrible shame that his swansong has been an ignominious half-season in a Kevin Keegan side and a series of ill-advised appearances as a captain on They Think It’s All Over. Almost exactly a year ago, Nigel Winterburn hung his boots up, leaving Seaman as the only remaining member of the best back-five in the history of football still playing, I will maintain for the rest of my days that Spunky should have bowed out of football at the Millenium Stadium last year, but he’s a stubborn and ambitious man; and you can’t fault him for that.

One of the reasons I turned against England (apart from the way that the national side is run) is not wanting to be associated with the kind of arsehole that booed Seaman when Paul Scholes ducked Artim Sakiri’s corner at St Mary’s 18 months ago. Shame on all that booed, and shame on anyone that fails to applaud Seaman for giving football so much. Those penalty saves against Scotland and Spain at Euro ‘96 to the save against Sheffield United in the FA Cup last year … good luck David, and thanks for the memories.

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