Michael Owen at Manchester United

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If the medical goes through. And, it should be taken as no insult to Stoke or Hull that the news comes as something of a relief. (More beneath the cut)

Everton, on the other hand, can justify a sense of disappointment. What Owen has needed, and has now got bar the medical, is a club with a good track record of keeping its players on the pitch. Under David Moyes, Goodison Park has kept on going on a 1970s-sized squad and 1980s budget: it’s had to be able to put its men in the field and it’s done so. Everton would have been a good choice for Owen, a place to rebuild. Remember – no one, at the beginning of last season, thought they’d see Louis Saha doing this kind of thing:

Injuries aside – and the news about Owen’s knees has been good since his careful rehab in 2007 – Owen has played for a club in constant chaos with a decaying squad and only a determined fan base to keep it going. He’s scored at a rate of nearly one in two. What on earth is he going to achieve at Manchester United, now that there are trophies to fight for, an England place to win back, people with professional standards in charge and state of the art facilities?

It’s a question that used to be asked of Owen’s one-time skipper and manager, Alan Shearer. What kind of career would he have had had he opted for Old Trafford over Ewood Park or over St James’s? How would that have changed things for the England side?

My guess is that Shearer would have enjoyed his career far less, won far more, valued it all at pence to the pound and engineered his way to his home club in time. He clearly valued the life he had in Northumberland, still does, and will, we now know, always be ready to risk his reputation to help the Toon in their time of need.

It’s different with Owen. He’s never really had the absolutely top club his talent deserved. His Liverpool were not the kind of club that could put up a realistic fight for the title, and when he left, showed no sign of becoming one.  Madrid were politically hog-tied as ever, unlikely to give him prominence no matter how often he demonstrated his superiority in class and technique over Raoul. And Newcastle should have done more to help Keegan once he’d got them – and especially Owen – playing again.

He has that top club now. I for one can’t wait to see him prove his detractors wrong. I’m sure he will.

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6 responses to “Michael Owen at Manchester United

  1. Do you know, James, why Newcastle seem to have so many problems with injuries? Do you know how Man U’s medical vetting fell down so badly with Hargreaves?

  2. Rumour only, but Newcastle’s training ground is not of the best, apparently, and in particular their training pitches are said to be of poor quality. What we know for sure is that Keegan has always been in favour of a major revamp in that area, that Allardyce was seeking one, and that Shearer favours it as well.

    Hargreaves’ injuries seem to be outriders in the sense that his failure to recover has surprised medical opinion from outside as well as inside Old Trafford. I still tend to expect him back fully recovered by Christmas however.

  3. Man U have signalled to any player who’s getting on a bit that they won’t buy him, but that if he winds his contract down, they might hire him.

  4. I think that United have a no ‘over 25s policy’ but only if they are actually paying a transfer fee. I would say:

    a) James – you are right. Newcastle are notorious, especially for hamstring injuries, and this is often down to the hardness of the training grounds.

    b) United have a pretty good track record with older professionals coming in to the squad (Larsson, Blanc, Sheringham) for a little while. Fergie also has a history of taking punts like this. Some pay off (Larsson, Sheringham) and some don’t (Goram).

    c) United are very good at keeping players fit and firing into their thirties (probably second only to AC Milan).

    My view here:

    http://leftbackinthechangingroom.blogspot.com/2009/07/michael-owen-part-deux.html

  5. I think its a good move- partly for the reasons you state and partly because United have not had this type of player for a while, someone who has excellent abilities at finishing. Berbatov, Rooney and the rest all want to play on the edge of the penalty area not inside of it. Something that Owen will also give them is a real aerial presence- Ronaldo gave it to them last year and despite being quite small Owen has ability in the air that is often unrecognised. Lastly its interesting that Keegan got him playing by playing him as an inside forward- essentially making him dictate the passing more- I wonder if Ferguson has seen ,as opposed to most English commentators, that Owen is good with his feet, has good perception and will contribute to United’s fluency and not weaken it.

  6. The highlights show may mislead, of course, but I have got the impression that Tevez tended to slow down quick counterattacks. I don’t suppose that Owen would.