4 Goals scored by Saha, who has made just six starts for Spurs
TOTTENHAM’S Louis Saha admits he could be forced out of the club in the summer, just four months after his arrival, but is nevertheless desperate to ensure they claim the Champions League spot he insists they deserve.
The much-travelled French striker only joined in January but his contract expires at the end of the season and, while he talks glowingly of his short time there, his White Hart Lane career hangs in the balance.
Uncertainty over the future of manager Harry Redknapp, favourite to take charge of England next month, has enveloped Spurs, and Saha concedes that whether he himself stays is in the hands of the club.
Far from demoralising the 33-year-old, however, the sense of limbo has only stoked his desire to propel Spurs back into Europe’s top competition and, in the process, prove he deserves a full season in north London.
“There are four games now so I will try to give my all,” Saha told City A.M. “I’ve been injured the last two weeks so I’ve missed two important games. The aim is to be fit again pretty soon and help the boys to reach the Champions League spot, because that is what we deserve. After the end of the season I will think about different things.”
Of whether he would stay at Tottenham, he added: “I don’t think I’m in a position to decide that. I can’t really talk for the many people who are in place. But I’m sure I’m enjoying it at Tottenham so I’m going to work hard for them.”
Having looked certainties to finish in the Premier League’s top four and above arch-rivals Arsenal earlier this season, Spurs now lie fifth, three points behind Newcastle and six behind the Gunners.
Local bragging rights have been set to one side following a dreadful post-Christmas run of 14 points from 14 games, but Saha is adamant Champions League qualification is still attainable and is the least their storming late-2011 form has merited.
“It is important [to finish ahead of Arsenal] but the main concern is to finish in the Champions League next season,” said Saha, who will visit Canary Wharf on Monday to promote his new book.
“To be a Champions League team is what Tottenham’s season deserves. I know we haven’t produced as much quality in the second part of it but there is way too much talent to be wasted.
“I think we’ve got some good fixtures even if we are not on a good run. Mathematically we’ve still got the possibility to do it and I’m pretty sure that with a good performance things can change our way. I always believe that until it’s impossible.”
Redknapp’s seemingly imminent departure, a reluctance to rotate players and injuries to Scott Parker, Aaron Lennon and Rafael van der Vaart have all been blamed for Tottenham’s alarming dip in form.
In contrast to the team, Saha has plundered an impressive four goals despite just six starts, and he too is at a loss to explain why they have plummeted from title contenders to relegation form.
“I have seen a few things have been questioned and it is difficult to be in that position, because what you want is to bring some boost to the team, but it didn’t seem to happen that way,” he said.
“I can’t really know exactly how it was before, but I’m sure there has been no change in the ambition of any player, they all want it, but it seems like something happened to kill the momentum.”
Failure to return to the Champions League would fuel doubts about the futures of Gareth Bale and Luka Modric, two of the top flight’s most coveted players.
While his own fate may be uncertain, Saha has urged the pair to stay with a squad the former Manchester United, Fulham and Newcastle forward rates as highly as any for which he has played.
“They are two great players who have a lot of ambition and want to progress. I still believe that Tottenham is the place to be. It’s a growing club and I would not advise any player to go,” he said.
“I have not seen any side with that much quality and potential to progress. I’ve been at Manchester United, who had a few players established and had won many, many trophies; here there are so many things to do still but it’s great to have so much talent. It’s unbelievable.”
Chelsea’s remarkable progress to the Champions League final means even finishing fourth will not be enough for Spurs if the Blues beat Bayern Munich, and Saha admits to being torn between supporting his friends Florent Malouda and Didier Drogba, and rooting for the Germans.
“I’d like to see my friends win Champions League medals, but at the same time I’m selfish, so it’s a difficult one,” he laughs. “I wish Flo, Didier and all of them the best because they are people I know but at the same time I can’t ask for a bat to be beaten with!”
‘Thinking Inside the Box’ (RRP £14.99) by Louis Saha is published by Vision Sports Publishing. He will be signing copies on Monday 30 April from 1pm at Waterstones, Jubilee Place, Canary Wharf.
TOP FOUR RUN-IN
Extra spice has been added to the four-way tussle for the remaining two Champions League places by Chelsea’s qualification for the final. Whoever finishes third is guaranteed to go straight into next season’s group stage regardless of how the Blues fare against Bayern Munich next month. However, if they lift the trophy Chelsea will also qualify for the competition proper, in place of whoever finishes fourth. Should they lose to the Germans, the Premier League’s fourth-placed team will earn a place in a two-legged play-off for next year’s group stage.
28 April, Stoke (A)
5 May, Norwich (H)
13 May, West Brom (A)
28 April, Wigan (A)
2 May, Chelsea (A)
6 May, Man City (H)
13 May, Everton (A)
29 April, Blackburn (H)
2 May, Bolton (A)
6 May, Aston Villa (A)
13 May, Fulham (H)
29 April, QPR (H)
2 May, Newcastle (H)
8 May, Liverpool (A)
13 May Blackburn (H)