Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Henry and Saha -- dream pairing?
My Winning Eleven buddy, with whom I have spent the better part of my life hunched over the console box, have often dispensed advice as we prepare ourselves for yet another England-France friendly. "No way I'll put Trezeguet as a striker. Put Saha lar!" As advices go, they often fall on deaf ears.
Try as I might vehemently deny, I'm actually quite a sentimentalist, and a pretty disturbing one at that. I could just see myself as a really bad manager, and an even worse referee. What? Drop McManaman from my first-team, even if I'm painfully aware of his inability to pass, dribble or shoot. What? Award Manchester United a penalty? With abundant goodwill, I'll most probably just wave any appeals away, with a yellow-card for diving if he happens to call himself "Ruud".
So there, Trezeguet happens to be a player I kinda admire. I have known him since the days of ....Championship Manager 2, when he and Thierry Henry were bosom buddies under Wenger at Monaco. Wenger and a few other coaches (including virtual ones like me) were raving about the two French fledgings. Nobody really listened, even after Trezeguet banged in a 30 yard stunner to knock Manchester United out of a Champions League quarter-final, back in 1997. The seeds of my admiration for him was sown.
His golden moment came, not in World Cup 98, but 2 years later in the classic final against Italy, when he became an overnight star by scoring the golden goal which clinched Euro 2000 for France, baring his emanciated frame in the process. It was an image that burnt forever upon the memories of all who watched that match, whether they liked it or not. Ah! Those were heady days indeed when France ruled the soccer world with a Napoleonic fist.
Since then, he's established himself as a top striker for Juventus, the closest thing to a fox-in-the-box in the modern game, though he never really endeared himself to the Turin faithful the way Platini or del Piero did. But that's just because he's too quiet, too selfless and too thin.
Saha, on the other hand, did not possess such a polished pedigree. Not born in Argentina like Trezeguet was, he plied his trade in unfashionable Fulham, before compounding the problem by committing the cardinal sin of joining the Red Devils. Somehow, I am never truly excited by his blistering pace and deadly finishing, which he demonstrates on a weekly basis for Alex Ferguson. Therein lies the whole problem, I'm utterly biased when it comes to Manchester United.
Raymond Domenach, though, has put one ahead of me. Henry and Saha have been named in attack against Denmark in a warm up friendly. Putting aside my tribal rivalries and my feeling sorry for Trezeguet, I shall wish them both the best tonight.
The goal that brings me tears of happiness