Beating Fulham will mean slightly more to two of United’s players, as Edwin van der Sar and Louis Saha come up against their former club on Saturday.
The two players are likely to get very different receptions from the away end at Old Trafford. Saha departed on slightly less favourable terms with the Fulham faithful than van der Sar, who made over 150 appearances in four years at Craven Cottage.
The Dutch goalkeeper started in the 3-2 win over Fulham in October earlier this season. Saha, who joined for £12.75million in January 2004, has also only faced his former club once; he scored the goal in a 1-1 draw in London in February 2004, barely a month after signing for the Reds.
Van der Sar says it will be “special” for both players to face their former club.
“You want to win every match, but games against your former club are always special,” he says in an interview with United Review. “I still know people at Fulham and I don’t want to get any stick for losing, so there’s an added incentive.
“I got a great reception at Craven Cottage. I didn’t expect anything less from the Fulham fans. I always did my best in the four years that I played for Fulham. They gave me a nice welcome.”
The former Juventus and Ajax goalkeeper has an in-depth knowledge of Fulham’s attacking players, but he says he won’t get involved with the “mind games” of second-guessing striker’s intentions.
“It can help you to know the opponent you are facing, but the flipside is that they know plenty about you as well,” he points out. “If you start thinking about it too much you get into mind games. I prefer to concentrate on my own game like I would against any other opponent.
“If I’m one-on-one with a player on Saturday I’ll be looking to react as quickly as I can to what they do, not guessing what I think they might do. All throughout the tema we have to look at our own qualities, that way we will be able to win the game.”
After the disappointment of Wednesday night’s 4-3 defeat to Blackburn – despite United controlling the game for large periods – it is vital the Reds get back to winning ways to continue the battle with Liverpool for second place.
One player that could make all the difference, according to van der Sar, is Louis Saha. The 27-year-old Frenchman has overcome a prolonged spell of injuries and is now in a fine run of goalscoring form, scoring eight goals in his last eleven appearances.
“I’m very happy for Louis,” says Edwin. “He’s had a bit of a difficult time with injuries since he came to United. He’s been fit for a few months now and played plenty of Carling Cup games. He’s also playing more in the Premiership now.”
And the 34-year-old stopper says United fans are yet to see the best of Saha.
“He’s a really good player with great strength and pace,” he added. “Louis can score goals, which means we have options up front. It’s good for the team that he is back fit, I hope he stays fit now and gets a run of games in the team.”