Sunday, 10 January 2010

The Curious Case of Michael Owen - United's Nobody Boy

For me, Michael Owen has produced the two most special moments for Man Utd in the last few months. Firstly his hat trick against the German champions of Wolfsburg was excellent. Three very different goals that showed what he can do as the man that leads the line. His run from the half way line and cute finish was joyous to behold.

The other moment was of course 'That' Manchester derby. A goal which rocked Old Trafford like nothing since and rarely before. It will live in my memory for ever and i feel blessed that it all happened just yards in front of my face.

Fergie has come out recently and said something that we have all felt whilst watching England play over the last several years. And that is that Rooney and Owen do not really blend as a pair. Its a strange thing for a manager to admit but i think honesty is always the best policy. I think at twenty grand a week basic and a pay as you play deal with no transfer fee was an awesome bit of business. But now I'm starting to question the whole 'arrangement'

Owen seems to be perennially stuck on the bench. The manager obviously sees him as an impact striker..20 minutes here. 10 minutes there. But at 30 years old and with plenty of cunning left in that little head of his, is this the right way to get all we can from the Ex-Scouse Kingpin? I have always believed that no matter how well you play or how many goals you leak, that its essential that you have a consistent threat at the right end. There is no doubt that Rooney is that threat in most United fans eyes and certainly in the managers. But it is very much the lack of goals this season that is the problem. Its a game by game issue. No goals against Fulham. No goals against Burnley. No goals at home to Villa or..gulp..Leeds Utd. No goals away to either Liverpool or Chelsea (both hemorrhaging goals for fun against lesser teams) It is clearly a problem.

Yet we have a former European Footballer of the Year sat on the bench, who now seems to have fallen behind a Senegalese 22 year old who has played 11 minutes for the club. Anyone else think that is a bit weird?

Now maybe Diouf will become a sensation, but the odds are stacked against him. Mecheda had a flying start only to disappoint with recent form. And Danny Welbeck? Well, he is a striker that..erm..never plays up front but gets a wide birth when he gets an opportunity. A role he clearly doesn't relish.

So Michael Owen, with all that predatory instinct that he has..the knowledge to score a goal out of half a chance, gets left as the bridesmaid. Holding the bouquet of barbed-wire while players with a tenth of his experience get in the wedding photos. And this leads me back to his contract.

Pay as you play sounds nice, doesn't it? 'Eh Mickey O! You play for us, score us some goals and you get a nice fat appearance and goals bonus' All very nice in cloud cuckoo land. If the boy doesn't play...AT ALL..he cant score. Its not algebra. Of course this leads back to other articles i have recently written such as The Rooney Obsession where i question what the hell we are actually doing in the forward positions at the moment, but this isn't some sort of rant. I'm genuinely baffled why Michael Owen has not started more matches.

If Fergie has had a look at him and now thinks he doesn't fancy him then that's OK. But it means that we need to sign a striker immediately in the January transfer window. I am not happy going forward with just Rooney, a Bulgarian who doesn't score enough, an Ex Scouser who doesn't play enough, and three promising kids to lead the line. Its just not acceptable. I agree with Fergie that the transfer market is crazy. But when has there ever really been value out there? Yep..once in a blue moon (did i just say blue moon?) you pick up a Cantona for peanuts and he turns out to be a messiah. But that happens once in a lifetime. For about half of the money we sold the Winker for we could pick up David Villa. For a quarter we could probably get Dzeko. I dont believe in panic buying, but oh lord we need reinforcements of the highest kind. With a midfield that has no goals left in it whatsoever, the emphasis is firmly on the front men.

I think Owen's United career will be over as quickly as it begun. And i think that is a real shame. Im convinced next year he will end up at an Everton, or an Aston Villa and he will score goals..and lots of them. He doesn't need to sit on the bench of the biggest club in the world, especially when he is on a basic wage of what the youngsters earn. It was a gamble for him and United to form this marriage. Rather than it be a failure or success, it just turned out to be a loveless union of convenience.


  1. I think that Sir Alex should try and play Owen and Rooney together. Yes, Rooney apparently plays better off the big man in front but I didn't see any big man against Brum. We couldn't get any worse in terms of scoring than our game against Leeds and in the 2nd half of the game against Brum. The 4-5-1 clearly doesn't work and if Sir Alex is losing faith in Berbatov, he should experiment with Owen for a few games.

  2. Rooney is a great option as a forward but United would benefit more if he were played in a play maker role. This has two effects they become a team with more options as other players become the goal scoring options and the midfield conundrum is resolved. A 4-3-1-2 wuld also allow Owen to play with a partner other than Rooney whilst not sacrificing his abilities. It will also mean that the midfield gets better and we will never see Rooney plowing a lone furrow again.

  3. It's absolutely bizarre what is going on this season.

    I doubt the truth will be coming out any time soon.

    Good post Rob. Enjoyed the read as always.

  4. With 6 strikers and at least 8 (capable) midfielders there must be a working formation there somewhere! Maybe its hard to see the wood from the trees.

  5. I think Fergie needs to retire, he has cleary lost the plot this season. Owen is now 5th Choice and Ben Foster has allen behind Amos in he pecking order. Fergie, it's time to put you in a home !

  6. Great post. There has to be something else going on. You don't go from scoring a hat trick to the bench.