Saha wins on hair alone
Louis Saha is in at White Hart Lane for nothing and Daniel Levy somehow managed to ship out Roman Pavlyuchenko with £7.5 million coming back. From a business perspective, it can be argued that Tottenham Hotspur were very shrewd on transfer deadline day, but from a footballing perspective, how did Spurs make out?
In Saha, Spurs are getting a 33-year-old with almost 15 years of professional experience, 12 and a half of which have come in England. Add in that five of those years came at Manchester United and you have both the experience and cool head in big matches. He's had huge season, like in 2000-2001 when he scored 32 times to earn Fulham promotion to the Premier League, and down years, like in 2004-2005 when he struggled to find the field and scored just twice.
On the flip side, there's Pavlyuchenko, a devout ally of row Z. He's three years younger than Saha and is far more accomplished internationally, with 20 goals in 45 appearances for Russia compared to four goals in Saha's 19 matches for France. He's also been a better goalscorer for Spurs than most who are accustomed to watching him stroll around the pitch would think with 14, 10 and 13 goals in his three full seasons in England. Toss in 10 years playing in Russia and you have a rather experienced player too.
From a purely numbers perspective, Pavlyuchenko has proven to be a better player than Saha in the last few years. In two of his three seasons in England, Pavlyuchenko outscored Saha and he doubled Saha's goal tally this year of two, despite playing in eight fewer matches. That means Pav is the better player, right?
For Spurs and what the club needs from their third striker, Saha may have the edge than the better goalscorer, Pav, on account of effort alone. Pavlyuchenko was a rare starter for Spurs and Saha will be a rare starter too. At White Hart Lane, the third striker role is almost exclusively one for a bench player and just having the greater effort of Saha, who will stretch tired defenses, is a major plus. He may not be the goalscorer that Pavlyuchenko is, but the fact that he is active could lead to an uptick in team goals.
If you have been unfortunate enough to watch Pavlyuchenko regularly for Spurs, it's pretty easy to give him a swift kick in the ass out the door and welcome in Saha. The numbers would say you're wrong though and even if the numbers don't always tell the truth (they don't), there is a bit of truth in these. Pavlyuchenko isn't nearly as bad as Spurs fans remember him being. Even so, the edge goes to Saha. Against tired defenses, the novel concept of running that the Russian never quite picked up means a lot. Win to Saha. Oh yeah, and that £7.5 million.