by Ben Davies
A pinch of salt was my reaction when talkSPORT linked former Liverpool striker Michael Owen with a sensational move to Manchester United. The previous day the same radio station revealed United were strong favourites to sign Karim Benzema. Five hours later Benzema signed for Spanish giants Real Madrid.
The press of course had a field day with the signing of Owen. Having just lost the services of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez United had replaced the pair with Antonio Valencia and a past his best injury prone striker in Michael Owen on a free transfer.
Benzema was apparently Sir Alex Ferguson’s preferred transfer target but it was decided the French International was not worthy of the transfer valuation. The signing of Owen on a free transfer should not come as a surprise as Sir Alex has repeatedly stated the lack of value in the current transfer market. Perhaps, as a result of the spending spree Real Madrid enjoyed for the purchases of Ronaldo and Kaka.
In the midsts of Newcastle’s relegation, Owen surprisingly released a broche of his qualities and achievements. The broche attracted the attention of Hull City and Everton but little interest from the so called bigger clubs that is of course until Sir Alex made enquiries. Without hesitation jumped at the opportunity to represent an elite club.
Personally, I thought the signing was a masterstroke, especially as the deal was a pay as you play. Michael Owen is a born striker and is blessed with natural predatory instincts that cannot be manufactured. Without Owen a greater reliance would have been placed on the young shoulders of Welbeck and Macheda. The pair can develop at their own rate rather than be rushed into first team action.
There is of course the notion Owen has a poor injury record, well it is only a notion. In his last two seasons at Newcastle Owen made 57 league appearances out of a possible 76 games which is far from being the worst.
During his first season Owen probably has not enjoyed the game time he has craved. He was always going to be used as an impact substitute rather than start the majority of games. The winning goal scored in the Manchester derby, the hat trick against Wolfsburg and the equaliser in the Carling Cup final are obvious highlights. The goals against City and Wolfsburg were all typical Michael Owen goals; plenty of movement creating space for himself. The City goal is a personal favourite; a special moment in a cracking game to win against the noisy neighbours – great stuff. Mark Hughes’ face was a picture 🙂
Overall nine goals in sporadic game time is a decent return for the striker. The former Liverpool man would surely have added to his goal tally if not for the excellence of Wayne Rooney. In summary Owen was a good back-up player during his first season as a Red Devil and his services were sorely missed during the run in.
What do you think? Were you pleased or disgruntled with signing Owen? Do you feel Owen has been a success or failure in his first season?