Saha's cameo seals win
Everton 2 West Bromwich 0
Monday 02 March 2009
David Moyes has enough players out until the summer to begin a pre-season tour already. He may learn in the next few days if Victor Anichebe will join Mikel Arteta and Yakubu on that particular bus, so just as well he has such fabled powers of alchemy.
Moyes knows Louis Saha is not the player Sir Alex Ferguson told his old mate Walter Smith about when he said, seven years back, that if he could have "one striker in the world" it would be him, but he heard all he needed to know when he asked Phil Neville's opinion this summer. "I told him that United sold Ruud van Nistelrooy because of him," Neville revealed. "Joleon Lescott tells a story of when he was at Wolves and couldn't get near him in one game."
'Balsa Man' is what United's Red Issue fanzine called Saha before he left Old Trafford and the words "Louis couldn't finish training" has become a recent Friday lunchtime mantra in press briefings at Finch Farm.
But Saha's desire to maintain a career at the top end of the Premier League, reflected in his initial willingness to train for no pay until fit, is unmistakable.
"That is what has impressed me," Moyes said. "I don't see him as a malingerer or somebody that isn't looking to play. I see somebody who wants to play. I think he wanted to get rid of the injury-prone tag, and he will probably say he is making contribution for us. When we took him, we always knew it would be a risk regarding his injuries, but we are doing all we can to get him playing as often as he can."
The player dubbed King Louis by some of Everton's players when he arrived – "he had that kind of an aura," according to Neville – proved, in the way he stroked a ball under his studs, and span to thunder Everton's second goal that he, like Tim Cahill, can do the job which Yakubu and Anichebe were earmarked for and which Jo, on Saturday's evidence, looks incapable of. He has four goals in 12 games for Everton (though he started only six of those), was a matchwinner against Fulham and West Ham, a force in Everton's draw at Newcastle a week ago and could be a critical part of Moyes' FA Cup plans, with Jo Cup-tied.
How Tony Mowbray, looking increasingly doomed, could use a fraction of that force. Luke Moore rattled the bar but has still scored one goal in a year at Albion.
Everton's hunger to clinch the old trophy outstrips anyone's. Moyes, who lost Tony Hibbert to a thigh strain, didn't risk Joleon Lescott, who was on four yellow cards, and only played Phil Neville, who had totted up as many, because Jack Rodwell was injured. But there will be more than fingers to cross, where Saha's match readiness for the quarter final against Middlesbrough is concerned.
"He has ice on his thigh and I could see clearly that he was carrying his thigh during the game," Moyes said. "That's a concern for me because I don't want anybody doing that."
Goals: Cahill (36) 1-0, Saha (70) 2-0
Everton (4-4-2): Howard; Hibbert (Osman, 19), Yobo, Jagielka, Baines; Gosling, Neville, Fellaini (Saha, 60), Pienaar; Cahill, Jo (Castillo, 75). Substitutes not used: Nash (gk), Lescott, Van der Meyde, Jacobsen.
West Bromwich Albion (4-4-2): Carson; Zuiverloon, Meite, Donk, Robinson; Morrison, Koren, Borja Valero (Greening, 53), Brunt; Simpson (Moore, 57), Fortuné (Teixeira, 89). Substitutes not used: Kiely (gk), Hoefkens, Cech, Menseguez
Referee: S Bennett (Kent)
Booked: Everton Fellaini West Bromwich Albion Greening
Man of the Match: Pienaar
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