Bruno Fernandes in a Man United Shirt Looking Down

Louis Saha backs Bruno Fernandes’ leadership – ‘If players are worried about being criticised by their captain, change jobs.’

Louis Saha spoke to this morning to discuss Liverpool’s 7-0 thrashing of Manchester United. The ex-United striker called the result ‘horrific’ and ‘a wake-up call’ but said that it would not derail their season because of the foundation that Erik ten Hag has put in place this year. Saha also defended Bruno Fernandes’ body language during the game, said Wout Weghorst is not good enough to be starting for United, and called Casemiro the signing of the season.

MB: What is your reaction to United’s result against Liverpool – what went wrong?

LS: Everything went wrong. It was one of those days when there is just too much to complain about. The result speaks for itself and it’s a wake-up call. They will have to go back and identify what happened for them to collapse, to see what went wrong. You can lose, but to lose like this, it’s horrific. It’s hard to take because you couldn’t see it coming. They started slow and the tempo wasn’t there, but even so, no one could have seen this collapse coming.

MB: Were there any specific individual performances that upset you?

LS: There isn’t one particular player to blame. They were all poor. Individually there were mistakes across the pitch, and what I’ve seen is this formation, the way they play has worked so well but not against the biggest sides like Man City or Liverpool. They have to identify why this is happening. I was looking at how we attack and seeing some moments where we weren’t doing the basics. Not controlling the ball, not challenging properly and not defending well.

MB: Things had been going so well at United, and online bookmakers had United as favourites to make the top four – do you think a result like this could derail the season?

LS: I don’t think this game will derail the season. They faced a really good side that is coming into some good momentum and when players like Salah, Gakpo and Nunez click, there’s not much you can do and you can be punished. It was just one game and United know they have better quality than that game. They have set a good foundation and that is why they have gone on a good run, won a cup and played so well recently. That’s why I think it’s just one bad result. Of course, it’s hard to swallow, but these things happen – that’s football, but they are professionals and they will bounce back.

MB: Bruno has come under fire for his negative body language when things weren’t going right yesterday. What’s it like when you have a teammate that has that kind of negative body language throwing his arms around at you and is that something he has to stop doing if he wants to be a true leader for United?

LS: I don’t want to comment too much because everyone is entitled to their own reaction in moments like that. Yes, he throws his hands and complains but that’s his way of showing energy and it’s the same when he’s doing well and people don’t complain so I’m not going to criticise the guy. He’s the captain because he’s a leader and people make mistakes. They didn’t lose 7-0 just because of him, it was every detail and I don’t mind seeing players being really hurt by the result. I will defend Bruno, everyone is entitled to make mistakes and he will learn from them and reflect, maybe he’ll see what fans and pundits have said about his behaviour and he will think about it. His frustration could well have been about his own performance too, and he just expresses it in that way. I think he wants to win and that’s what I see in him. If the players around him are unhappy with his body language and are worried about being criticised by their captain, change jobs. That’s it. You have to accept these things. Roy Keane used to do it too, he always looked for a reaction, whether it was the right one or not.

MB: Wout Weghorst hasn’t scored as many goals as he’d like but EtH clearly rates him and continues to play him in big moments. Do you think he is good enough to be starting games up front for United?

LS: To be honest, I am frustrated with him because I played in that position for many years and I think he’s a good player with lots of experience both internationally and in club football but his performances haven’t been good enough and he doesn’t deserve to be starting in every game. Yes they won the League Cup and have been winning games but in some crucial moments you need to keep the ball and he doesn’t do it, he doesn’t win all of his headers. He does work hard but that isn’t enough. Just because the team is winning doesn’t mean you can’t make changes and that the formation and lineup is good for every fixture. He’s been given a lot of opportunities to prove himself and he hasn’t taken that chance. I don’t think he’s very effective at pressing high up the pitch. I understand why he’s in the team as he’s the focal point and he provides stability for the team, but I think that’s not good enough. It doesn’t mean he can’t make it and improve, but from what I’ve seen from him so far, he needs to be better.

MB: The signing of Casemiro has completely transformed United’s midfield. Do you think he could be the Premier League signing of the season?

LS: For me yes. I haven’t seen any player, apart from maybe Bruno Fernandes, have such an impact on a team. Bruno was able to consolidate and hide a lot of mistakes at Man United, but I haven’t seen any player since I played able to help his team as much as Casemiro from defence to attack. Yesterday was the first time we’ve seen a collective collapse, you can’t blame one player in particular and pinpoint them for three or four mistakes. It was one of those moments where Casemiro’s shining strength, able to eradicate big mistakes, wasn’t seen, it’s the only game. So for me he’s the signing of the season for sure, because he scores goals, passes the ball, defends well, gives confidence to his manager in the way they defend and the way they attack. I don’t remember any player make such an impact in the Premier League and have United back by himself. Even Cristiano, coming back and scoring lots of goals. Some have highlighted Casemiro put a lot of pressure on other players, he showed why he was so important at Real Madrid and people didn’t really value his contribution, and now they could see it. He’s an unbelievable player, I was really excited when he signed but even I was surprised that he’d have such an impact on the other players.

MB: Casemiro has been a revelation, but any worries about his age? Should United be thinking about a longer-term option that can provide backup instead of McTominay?

LS: I think that McTominay can really learn from Casemiro. He can run all day and has great energy but Casemiro has mastered the art of knowing when to run, when to sit in, when to be aggressive or when to be calm. He’s done it on the biggest stage for a long time and McTominay can only improve by watching him and learning from him. I don’t worry about Casemiro’s age at all because his main strengths are his balance and intelligence and those don’t go away as you get older. Look at Paul Scholes for instance. He stopped playing for a whole year and came back and was still the same player. Casemiro has unique qualities and what I can see in him and his body language he really wants to communicate with his players and be a leader even if his English isn’t very good. Any player that comes to United will learn from him. I think Man United missed Eriksen against Liverpool a lot because him and Casemiro complement each other so well.

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Matt is an SEO Executive and joined us in April 2022. He studied in America for university and then trained as a sports journalist before joining. Matt loves all sports, particularly football, cricket and NFL. In his spare time, he can usually be found cooking or grazing on a village cricket outfield.

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