Michael Owen: The forgotten man

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By Oscar Chamberlain

Having spent yet another season on the bench and in the treatment room it is looking increasingly likely that Michael Owens’s anticlimactic Manchester United career may be coming to an end. The emergence of Javier Hernandez has restricted Owens’s opportunities and lead to him becoming third choice at Old Trafford behind the Mexican, Dimitar Berbatov and the irrepressible Wayne Rooney.

Owen joined the Red Devils two summer’s ago hoping to reboot what can only be described as a dying career. In the beginning it looked as if a return to prominence may be on the cards but the injury prone striker once again succumbed to fitness issues and has cut an isolated figure ever since.

Owen joined the three time European champions on a free transfer after leaving Newcastle United in the summer of 2009 in a transfer that shocked the world of football. Although he made it clear he wanted European football few expected him to fulfill this bold ambition, no one however could have predicted what was to come, step up Sir Alex Ferguson.

In his 25 years at the Old Trafford helm Fergie has shocked, upset and angered many but the biggest shock of all was making a move to sign a player who was down on form, supposedly passed it and most importantly was once idolized by Liverpool Football Club.

After turning the world of football on its head Owen was instantly under pressure, not just from the press but also from his new fans partly from his affiliation with rivals Liverpool but also due to his new squad number. George Best, David Beckham and Eric Cantona all wore the coveted number seven shirt but he was only copying them not replacing them he was replacing World Footballer Of The Year Cristiano Ronaldo.

After one of the longest transfer saga’s in history Ronaldo finally sealed his Real deal for a world record breaking fee of £80m and with the all this money burning a hole in the pockets of United fans speculation and an excited anticipation soon began to rise over who would replace him. We know now it would be Owen who would attempt to fill the void and attempt to shoulder the tremendous pressure and it was clear the fans had expected more.

After reluctantly accepting Owen, Man United fans soon turned their attention towards the up coming season as did the striker who made an immediate impact during pre season scoring four goals including one on his debut against a Malaysian XI. He then made his league debut against Birmingham City coming on as a late substitute on August 16th, but it was to be a week later when he season was to truly begin when he scored his first league goal against Wigan Athletic in a 5-0 win.

Owen then captured United hearts in sensational fashion when he came off the bench to net a 96th minute winner against bitter rivals Manchester City giving the Reds a 4-3 win. Despite being restricted to bit part appearances Owen regularly found the net when he played scoring in both the league and Europe a particular highlight being a hat trick against Wolfsburg in the Champions League.

On February 28th 2010 Owen was presented with the perfect opportunity to showcase his World Cup credentials when he was picked to face Aston Villa in the League Cup Final. After starting the game well Owen rolled back the years as he raced towards goal and slotted the ball past Brad Friedel it was the stuff of dreams but just second later it would turn into yet another injury nightmare as the striker pulled up and was substituted. Although initial fears suggested it was a minor injury the worst was soon confirmed as it was announced he would miss the rest of the season and also the 2010 World Cup.

After missing out on England’s dismal World Cup campaign Owen once again turned his attention to pre season where he began to find the net, he then continued this form into the full season scoring twice in United’s League Cup victory over Scunthorpe. Four days later he scored his first league goal of 2010/11 against Bolton Wanderers and then it all began to change as Hernandez began to emerge.

Hernandez emergence as one of the Premierships top strikers is probably the main reason behind Michael Owens’s absence from the United line up. With the former England man now third choice a move away looks nailed on with the imminent return of Danny Welbeck also on the cards. Owen however has remained committed and expressed his desire to remain at England’s top team and aims to play a key role in what could still be a treble winning season.

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