‘Bolser Man’ Saha breaks his jinx

LOUIS SAHA knows only too well how cruel football can be.

The former Manchester United striker’s injury record at Old Trafford was such that wags in the Stretford End rechristened him ‘Bolser Man’ while fanzines delighted in dreaming up ever more outlandish injuries for their jinxed No9.

A summer move to Everton on a two-year pay-as-you-play deal was supposed to breathe new life into Saha, once one of the Premier League’s most coveted talents, but his fortunes had shown little sign of improvement.

Until Saturday, that is.

The French international scored his first goal for his new boss David Moyes, and his first since February, to ensure Everton’s first home win of the season and now things are finally looking up.

“From my point of view, after so many injury problems at Manchester United, it is really good,” said Saha.

“It was hard to go through all that, but I am confident now and I know I picked the right club to come to because everyone is helping me to settle in and to enjoy my football again.

“I am really, really enjoying myself now and everything is starting to go well again.”

The perfectly-timed header in the closing minutes from Leon Osman’s cross was the one flash of genuine quality in a dismal match that Fulham did not deserve to lose.

Saha certainly enjoyed playing against another of his former Premier League clubs, having left Fulham for Old Trafford for £12.8million in January 2004. His winner here was his fourth in seven appearances against Fulham since he departed Craven Cottage.

“That first goal in an Everton shirt has given me a real boost, as well as the team,” he added. “That is my concern, to achieve something for the team and to claim three points for the first time this season at home.

“There are no mixed emotions because it was against Fulham, one of my former clubs. It is just another game. It is true that it is a bit special when I play against Fulham, I have good memories of my time there. But now I can only have thoughts for Everton.

“I feel I am beginning to get to grips with my new club. It has taken me a little longer than I had hoped but now I have got off the mark with the winner, I hope there will be many more to come.

“We needed the win, particularly because we hadn’t started the season well.

“It is a huge boost that our new players, me included, are beginning to do well. We are all performing better. Now we have been able to climb into the top half.”

Fulham manager Roy Hodgson had every right to complain about his side’s misfortune. “That was a cruel fate given the way we worked so hard,” he said. “We had chances and we probably deserved even to win.

“For the last five minutes they had five forwards on the pitch and were chancing their arm. What happened was what we dreaded.

“Afterwards I congratulated my team on their performance generally, but that does not take away the pain of defeat.

“They felt that pain just like me, so I would not direct any blame after such an effort.”

EVERTON (4-4-2): Howard 6, Neville 6, Yobo 6, Jagielka 8, Lescott 6, Arteta 5, Osman 6, Fellaini 6 (Saha 61, 7), Pienaar 5 (Anichebe 76, 6), Cahill 6, Yakubu 6 (Vaughan 84, 5).

Subs Not Used: Nash, Hibbert, Baines, Rodwell.

FULHAM (4-4-2): Schwarzer 6, Pantsil 6, Hughes 7, Hangeland 6, Konchesky 5, Davies 5 (Nevland 89, 5), Bullard 6 (Baird 83, 5), Murphy 6, Gera 5 (Dempsey 88, 5), Zamora 5, Johnson 5.

Subs Not Used: Zuberbuhler, Gray, Stoor, Andreasen.

REFEREE: Lee Mason (Lancashire): A poor match but that was not the officials’ fault.

MATCH RATING: * One to forget, for all but Louis Saha.

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