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Is Owen still worth a gamble?

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Phil McNulty | 09:51 UK time, Monday, 15 June 2009

As Cristiano Ronaldo parties with Paris Hilton in Los Angeles in preparation for his coronation as Real Madrid's latest galactico, spare a thought for one of his predecessors in that elite group.

It was the summer of 2004 and Michael Owen was the Premier League superstar lauded by Real president Florentino Perez, the man who signed off the world record £80m bid for Ronaldo, after his capture from Liverpool.

Owen was handed his Real shirt by the legendary Alfredo di Stefano and Peres greeted him with a message he is likely to repeat when Ronaldo arrives in Madrid: "Signing him is following in our tradition. He fits perfectly into the Real Madrid culture."

How times change. While Ronaldo's history-making price tag did not even make Real blink, Owen is forced to send out a buyer's guide to potential purchasers reminding them of the talent that was once a magnet for the world's biggest clubs.

Owen's record and pedigree should have suitors queueing down the street to secure his services - and yet it seems a brochure is required to tell selected clubs that one of the best marksmen of his generation is available on a free transfer this summer.

The move by Owen's management company, Wasserman Media Group, has provoked a reaction ranging from astonishment to mockery - with the cynics suggesting their client is begging for a club as his reported £120,000-a-year contract at Newcastle United draws to a close.

The document details Owen's career achievements, outlines "Brand Values" and informing those lurking in the market that he retains global appeal - and, perhaps most importantly, it also contains a four-page medical review reassuring the doubters that he is fit and healthy.

The notion of Owen needing to advertise his wares could be construed as a sign of how far his star has fallen during four injury-plagued and unfulfilling years on Tyneside that ended in relegation from the Premier League.

But is it such a bad idea after all? Not really. Maybe his management are simply doing their job - talking up a prize asset to the market and making the Premier League aware that here is a gamble that might just be worth taking.

Owen is not the player he was - he will admit that himself. And his recent injury record will nag at the back of the minds of managers pondering the idea of taking a plunge.

Michael Owen is searching for a new club

He has lost the searing pace that marked his stunning arrival on the global stage at the 1998 World Cup, but set him against the price of some of the buys being touted this summer, and the idea of signing Owen for a song and a contract worth around £50,000-a-week surely has merit.

Alan Hansen, who watched his emergence at Liverpool as a teenager and has followed his career ever since, insists there will be a market for a player of Owen's calibre.

He told me: "There will be clubs out there. I don't think you are taking a chance if you are getting him for free and maybe getting a pay-as-you-play deal. He may have lost a yard of pace, but if he is fit and he plays he scores goals.

"The top four probably won't go for him, but I think the clubs between five and ten will be interested. I honestly don't think he will have a problem getting a club - goalscorers are precious commodities and he is a goalscorer.

"He had his critics at Newcastle, but maybe the service wasn't the best and if he moves he is likely to be playing with better players. If you get him fit he will score goals.

"It might be a surprise that his management need to advertise him but I don't see a problem with that. They are simply doing their job for their client and maybe they are not happy with the offers they have had, but I would be amazed if he didn't get a club.

"You are not getting the Michael Owen of 1998 but you are getting a goalscorer - and as I said they are precious to clubs in the Premier League."

Owen looked short on confidence in his closing appearances for Newcastle, but there remains the hope that his fire would be rekindled in happier surroundings and supplied with greater quality.

And Owen would not be short on motivation. He may have to adjust his sights as someone who believes his ability should always be shown on the highest stage, because the top four are probably out of his range at this stage of his career.

But with a World Cup only 12 months away, he will want one final tilt at showing England coach Fabio Capello he is worth considering for South Africa, so any buyer will have a player fuelled by the idea of a parting shot at a major tournament.

So who are the potential takers for Owen, a man with roots and interests planted firmly in the north of England but still harbouring desires to finish his career with a flourish?

Everton would appear to be the perfect fit for Owen from a personal and professional viewpoint - a boyhood blue before nailing his colours to the mast of rivals Liverpool to such great effect.

Boss David Moyes has tried and failed to sign Owen before, and is currently understood to be "50/50" about pursuing a deal this summer. Everton's situation is complicated by the presence in their squad of Louis Saha, a striker with his own questionable injury record.

Everton need attacking reinforcements with Yakubu still recovering from injury, but is there a place for both Owen and Saha at Goodison Park? This will tax the mind of Moyes before he makes his decision.

Owen is also believed to be concerned about the reaction on Merseyside should he sign for Everton after making himself such a prominent figure in Liverpool's recent history. Past form tells us fans forget allegiances if strikers are finding the net - and Owen has always backed himself to do that.

Aston Villa have been linked with Owen, although boss Martin O'Neill was swift to shoot down claims he has already been offered a two-year deal. If Owen moved to Villa, he could reignite a partnership with Emile Heskey that proved fruitful at club level with Liverpool and in internationals with England, although this particular link has a foot firmly in the past.

Heskey, however, has not established himself at Villa and it is tough to see where Owen would fit into the current set-up with John Carew the spearhead, allied to the pace of Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ashley Young.

Manchester City are retaining an interest, but Mark Hughes looks to be setting his sights at the more expensive end of the market - although Owen could yet emerge as a cheaper option and is likely to welcome the interest.

Owen has support from key players inside the Liverpool camp, who see the benefits of signing him on a free transfer, but he left shortly after Rafael Benitez's arrival in 2004 and a failed attempt to bring him back to Anfield before he joined Newcastle a year later probably ended any chance of an emotional return.

West Ham United and Spurs have been mentioned in dispatches, but it is hard to picture Owen moving to London if he gets offers from the midlands or the north. Panathinaikos and Roma have been named as other possible buyers, but it is clear Owen wants to continue his career in the Premier League and not as a member of European football's undercard.

It all leaves Owen in an unlikely form of limbo as he waits for his next club to make a firm move - but despite the doubts over his fitness and recent record, his proven class is still likely to be enough of a sales pitch to tempt managers to keep him in the Premier League.


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  • Comment number 1.

    I still think Villa will snap him up. You say you can't see where he'd fit in, but its not as if Agbonlahor has set the house on fire there. He was even boo'ed not so long ago.

    O'Neill seems to be keen on English/British players, and they are in need of a true goalscorer. Owen fits the bill.

    Also, you said "reported £120,000-a-year". Ha, that's probably what him and the rest of them should be on, but I think it's 52x that figure!

  • Comment number 2.

    He's past it. Barely good enough for the championship nowadays

  • Comment number 3.

    Wouldn't touch him with a bargepole... The EPL is the only league in the world who even consider giving this player 50k a week because of the daft money involved in their game...

    His past scoring exploits can only be touted for so long.. he has just spent 4 years at Newcastle and achieved nothing more than increasing his bank balance

  • Comment number 4.

    There is a lack of humility in football (sorry, I'm stating the bleedin' obvious there). Shouldn't Owen, and indeed the other "stars", pledge their loyalty to Newcastle for one more season, and help them win promotion? Owen has banked his £120k per week for four years, and the net result is relegation. Can he not take a pay-cut appropriate to the Championship, and then score whatever goals are needed to get them up? Perhaps I am too principled, but if it were me I would feel a deep sense of shame that I have taken such vast amounts of money only to produce in the negative.

  • Comment number 5.

    I reckon he should go back to liverpool- gerrard can play with him and we need a striker

  • Comment number 6.

    Owen risks our memories of him if he does not retire while we have fresh recollections of him at the summit of his career. Now is the time to step gracefully aside.

  • Comment number 7.

    What odds could you have got four years ago that Michael Owen would be the name written into the record books as England's all time leading scorer? Finally surpassing the 49 of Sir Bobby.

    Unattractively short, I'd wager.

    Wayne Rooney is now the man to push on and make the half century of strikes in England white. Fitting that the baton should be passed from one United great to the next.

  • Comment number 8.


  • Comment number 9.

    Having watched him play towards the end of last season, I have concluded that he is NOT worth the gamble and is nothing like what he used to be. This INCLUDES this natural finisher rubbish. I saw him miss 3 sitters in Newcastle's run-in and you'd think he'd have put one away. Why do these players constantly get picked on name and past reputation when it is blindingly obvious that they just don't have it anymore...

  • Comment number 10.

    Blimey well spotted Bennyonions but anyway i'd love him to come back to Liverpool he'll give us a stronger squad he can come on for the last 20 minutes and terrify the defence maybe if he only distracts the defence that'll do and he'd be happy with it as he know's this is his last chance to fulfil all the prophecys from 1998 he can win the league and maybe the champions league at a very strong Liverpool and get a go at the World cup
    last roll of the dice for a player who made a huge mistake once!

  • Comment number 11.

    The question perhaps should be, does Michael Owen want to continue playing football?

    He appears to me to be a person with no fire left in his belly.

  • Comment number 12.

    Honestly, great player that he has been, I really don't think any of the top 8 clubs should consider signing Michael Owen.

    His three greatest attributes were a)pace, b)natural/instinctive finishing and c)confidence in abundance. He no longer has the pace, and that combined with injuries has led to a loss of confidence.

    He is still a natural finisher, but in the modern game, where defenders are now so powerful, fast and athletic, that is not enough.

  • Comment number 13.

    Owen, with his experience, should concentrate on getting his coaching badges; he is well placed to deal with players in today's EPL.

  • Comment number 14.

    He will struggle top team to take the risk with him imo, and rightly so.

    I don't believe Owen ever got anywhere near the potential he threatened as a teenager. As for being branded as "one of the top marksman of his generation2, what complete rubbish.
    How can he be described as this when he has never managed to score 20 league goals in a season?

    Great potential he had.......but never achieved imo.

  • Comment number 15.

    surely the best move would be to follow McClaren away from the prem for a while, maybe to Holland or Scotland for enough time to find his form

  • Comment number 16.

    Owen is a proven goal scorer at all levels and if he can stay fit and get some condidence, he will return to the goal scorer of old.

    As a chelsea fan I still think he can offer the big four something and I would like to see Owen at Stamford Bridge next season. If he came we could get shot of that diving prema-donna Drobga !!!

    Owen to return to the England squad by 2010 !!!

  • Comment number 17.

    He's too injury prone and, to be honest, that makes him a gamble.

    A pay as you play deal might be the only way forward for him now as I can't see any club paying him huge wages with the risk of him spending weeks on the treatment table.

    But he will find a club, without question, because his goal scoring record will be too hard for those looking for a goal scorer to resist, though it definitely wont be with a top 4 side.

  • Comment number 18.

    It's a tough situation Owen is in. He won't go to Spurs who already have enough strikers, City already have Robinho, who at the moment is more effective than Owen, Villa already have some young pacey strikers as well. Everton is looking like the best bet at the moment, but there are always clubs like West Ham and Portsmouth who I wouldn't bet against pulling a major coup this summer.

    I personally hope Owen regains his form that once made him one of the most feared strikers in Europe, he is an excellent proffessional and seems like a good lad to boot.

  • Comment number 19.

    I could see sunderland going for him or maybe even tottenham as backup. Youve got to remember that all of Newcastle was pretty rubbish and one thing Owen needs is good service from midfield. For a striker proven to be effective in the premier league (i know not for a while) someone is bound to sign him if he is on a free.

  • Comment number 20.

    Is he worth a gamble? 100%. He will get goals and plenty of them.

    Yes, most Premiership teams already have a striker who is more reliable and in better form than Owen but not many have more than 1 striker who fulfills this criteria.

    I think managers should go out and bag themselves a bargain in the 2009 Summer sales!!

  • Comment number 21.

    Only the terminally desperate would dream of signing Owen. He's already a multi millionaire, so if he really loves the game as much as he claims to, he'll be signing a contract for 20k or less a week, with £40-£50k appearance and goal bonuses, in fact even better, how about a pay as he plays deal - bet he won't be interested in that!

    His moves have all been a complete disaster, and you really do have to question his advisors, as they clearly couldn't give two hoots about his happiness and football related matters, provided they are coining in as much as possible.

    I'd question whether he'd be up to playing in even League 1 any more.

    Oh how the mighty have fallen.

  • Comment number 22.

    Michael Owen has lived on the back of one sensational goal he scored as a teenager for England against Argentina. Truly great players perform on any stage and in ANY team however mediocre that team - e.g Newcastle - might be. You simply cannot imagine Wayne Rooney underachieving even if he was playing for a pub team.

    I can only see Owen rebuilding his teen reputation at a club with a sensational team spirit and superb fitness and conditioning facilities. He surely can't be considered for next year's World Cup unless he bangs in 20 goals for a Premiership club.

  • Comment number 23.

    I cant see him attracting the attentions of any of the top clubs.

    Maybe a blackburn or wigan would be ideal for Owen, somewhere where he can get fitness and play, if he rediscovers the form there then who knows !

  • Comment number 24.

    Who knows who will come in for Owen. He was once a great striker but he looked like a broken man in Newcastle's last few games last season, albeit in a pretty poor team. Maybe he'll even end up re-signing for the Toon and playing in the championship next season?

    I doubt he'll play for England again. Capello has clearly put his cards on the table as far as that goes. It would take an exceptional season in a top league somewhere (whether it be the EPL, Spain or Italy) to turn that one round on its head.

    England could certainly do with him when you look at some of the players Capello has been picking lately. Aside from Rooney up front (who is truly world class) we've been struggling a wee bit with Heskey the best of the bunch and the rest of the options not looking quite up to international level IMHO.

  • Comment number 25.

    How about Celtic or Rangers?

  • Comment number 26.

    Owen's well worth a punt... as you say, definitely a gamble opting for saha and owen to start but if by some miracle they can stay fit (or atleast not injured) I genuinely think that's a top two pairing that if playing together could be very dangerous, (dare i say potential top four quality, depending on arsenal's business this summer?)

    I really rate Yakubu as well.

    Plus, like Beckham's stint at Milan, if Owen can graft his way back in to the squad he might even get some attention from Capello for next summer. Only problem being England has been playing the Rooney plus target man system under Capello and Owen certainly isn't that. Still stats show that up until Capello came in England scored as many goals whether it was Rooney+Owen/Rooney+Heskey/Owen+Heskey. That argument's been substantially diluted though in this WC qualifying campaign where Owen hasn't featured obviously.

    Despite this, if Owen has a 20+ goal season in the EPL then I would sorely miss him if he wasn't on the bench and England are chasing a goal in SA.

  • Comment number 27.

    No doubt every premier league team has been scouting him, but theres a reason he hasnt been snapped up and thats because he just isnt very good.

    I think the best he can hope for if he wants premierleague football is joining one of the newly promoted teams. But they shouldnt over pay for him, a very small basic wage with more emphasis as earning on pay as you play and bonus's for goals, assists, and man of the match performances etc, only way your going to get value for money from him.

  • Comment number 28.

    Phil..... when you said he's put together a catalogue of what he can do, I thought your were joking!

    Personally, I'm not sure he needed to do that. Every manager in the Premiership will be aware of what he can do.

    What he needs to do is show them that he can stay fit.

  • Comment number 29.

    The worst decision he has ever made was to go to Newcastle. The injury he picked up just pushed him over the edge. Morale and confidence is huge for a striker and Owen lacked both at Newcastle, a team that was demoted to the Championship, and rightly so. Personally, I think Owen still wants (and needs) to play at the highest level. With the right manager, team and support, he will start banging in those goals and get his scoring instincts back as a striker. On a "Free" and perhaps 40-50K a week, I think Owen is a bargain, on a short-term contract to start off with.

  • Comment number 30.

    We'll have him at Leeds.

  • Comment number 31.

    Villa need a proven goalscorer but Owen is a true risk. I suspect he could do well given the excellent fitness of Villa players, they seem to be a lot fitter than Newcastle for example!
    I would favour him coming but not at the money discussed. £50k is the top end of his value and he can have bonuses if he performs/plays. Teaming up with heskey or Carew might work, then we have options for the front line - the speed tactic doesn't always work against speedy defenders! Skill and guile count as well.

  • Comment number 32.

    If there is ever any doubt of Owen's quality, Southend will be happy to give him a home

  • Comment number 33.

    #7 Worst firm in the world - perhaps that's a better indicator not to think 100% that Rooney will be the one to break the record!

    Owen was not the first and won't be the last to be assumed to beat it and fail...

  • Comment number 34.

    I'd just like to say that as an 'appy 'ammer I'd be more than happy to see im in the claret n blue. Lets face it if Lucas Neill's going we could easily afford his wages. COYI

  • Comment number 35.

    I'm surprised that someone as astute as Alan Hansen is still touting him around. It's as simple as this - The type of player Owen is has no place in the modern game. The days of the 'poacher' are long gone. No team worth their salt can carry a poacher, because if they do, they're in effect a man down. All the top teams have an all round player as their centre forward, someone who can do it all, not just pop up in the right place at the right time. Who would you rather have in your team - a Didier Drogba type, who doesn't need the 'service' that Hansen alludes to, because he's perfectly capably of making his own goals, or Owen, an injury prone, slow striker, who can be taken care of with a man-marker?

    The only teams that will sign Owen are those whos manager still lives in the past. Unluckily for Owen, Bryan Robson and Peter Reid are no longer club manangers.

  • Comment number 36.

    I suspect Moyes and hope so to will gamble on Owen. there are several merit worthy points which scream don't take him. The lack of pace, the injuries etc. However the one point which concerns me is the lack of passion in his body language....he has been abused by Madrid, which despite a good record I beleive knocked his confidence, he was abdly advised to goto Newcastle and you can see the reaction.

    He looked like he wanted to be anywhere but on the sinking Geordie Ship, that's what would worry me. But I can be convinced, he is only 28/29, he could nursed back into love with football at a club were most things are right?

    I'm going with my gut and the potential if its still there, my mate sat opposite righly points out Moyes needs forwards who work extremly hard to help the overall shape and style of play. Even at his peak, he wasn't that kind of player was he?

    Depite my resevations, I'd take him agamble worth taking

  • Comment number 37.

    Owen should either stick it out in the Championship and become a Geordie legend by dragging them back to the Prem single-haded or go up north to Celtic and bang in 30 goals a season for them. The support would be imense and the competition poor so that should suit his current state of play.

    He used to be amazingly good but for him to be in such dire straits at his, still relatively young, age is quite sad. Injuries have undoubtedly impacted on his abilities but more than this he seems to have just lost all his passion and ambition.

    Signing for Newcastle showed that, it's all about the Benjamins for Mickey now!!

  • Comment number 38.


    Yes. Bloody good point. Some responsibility for a job not done.
    We were sitting there at the end of the last couple of transfer windows, waiting for news that he was coming to Spurs. (I know, I know).
    but I'd still love to see him playing in our white and blue. it suits him. he should finish the job he's been over-paid to do, and bring the barcodes straight back up. then his true current value will be known.

    on the other hand though, his chances of playing for England in the world cup would be at least higher than the "0" it currently is, if he were part of a successful premiership campaign next season.

    So I don't think you'll see him in the championship - I just hope he doesn't seek his opportunity at Bolton / Blackburn / Stoke.

  • Comment number 39.

    The question is fitness, pure and simple.

    Yes he has lost the pace, but his game was always based on more than this anyway. When you are as good a finisher as him and as good in the air you do not need loads of pace to score goals.

    Give him 38 games in prem and he'll still score 18-20 goals. The chance of him playing 38 games a season though is very unlikely. As I say, for me it is all about his fitness rather than ability.

  • Comment number 40.

    I think if Owen plays under a good manager he could be an excellent player. You look at teams like Everton and Villa, whose players are not exceptional by any stretch of the imagination, yet Moyes and O'Niel know how to get the best out of them. Owen never had a manager at Newcastle that knew how to get the best out of him (Keegan, Kinnear, Shearer). If he goes to the right team, I think he could be a stand-out premier league player.

  • Comment number 41.

    I would personally not be overly against him returning to Liverpool, although he would have to throw himself down at Benitez's feet and beg after he turned his back on the club in 2004. He would also have to take a huge paycut and be on a pay as you play deal to satisfy both the board and the fans, but i could see him being a great impact player and could contribute next season.

    In the next few months we get to see what kind of a man he is, he could take a pay cut go to a decent team and get himself back in Capello's plans or he could chase the money probably abroad and be forgotten forever, which is a shame considering he won the FA cup for us single handed and gave us some great memorys.

  • Comment number 42.

    Say what you like about him but his goals to games ratio is still up there with the best, problem is how many games you are likely to get from him per season. If you can get him and keep him fit {and get him interested in football again} he will score goals, David Moyes seems to have done a good job with Saha {who imo will be Evertons top striker next season} and I think if Owens going to stay in the PL it's probably the best place for him to go to.

  • Comment number 43.

    Crouch and Heskey get picked for England, Nothing more needed to be said..!!!!

  • Comment number 44.

    I think he could still do a job, but people need to be more realistic as to what his level is.

    The upper reaches of the Premier League are out of reach for today's Michael Owen, least of all Liverpool. Rafa's fingers are probably still burnt from the failed attempt to re-ignite Fowler's career.

    Rather than harking back to the 1998 youngster, it would be more relevant to draw attention to his more recent role as an occaisionally useful player for Newcastle - although said player hasn't been sighted for at least six months.

    Although his fitness would need to be proved, he's still shown leathal attributes in recent years, most notably his movement in the box, if not out of it. His deeper role as part of Keegan's forward triumvarite showed he still has the maturity and nous to re-invent his game a little, albeit in this case with only brief success.

    To say he's on the scrapheap is simply not true. I think expectations of Owen need to be seriously re-aligned though.

  • Comment number 45.

    To ChocolateBoxKid...Michael Owen DOES want to continue playing top class football and has reacted angrily to any suggestion that he doesn't.

    And to fantasticTrueBlue...just ask Liverpool fans if he has lived off the back of one goal scored against Argentina in 1998? They might just recall him winning the FA Cup virtually single-handedly against Arsenal in Cardiff in 2001.

    I genuinely believe he does want to carry on. It is suggested by one poster that he looked "a broken man" towards the end of last season with Newcastle, I would mount a defence by suggesting that he was playing in a broken team at a broken club.

    I am sure, as Alan Hansen says, that he will find a club with ambition this summer.

  • Comment number 46.

    I think it could be one of the 'Big 4' clubs that will take him. Personally as a Chelsea fan, if he arrived at Stamford Bridge, I would not be dissapointed. If Owen goes to one of the middle table clubs, they will need him to play almost all of their games and he quite obviously can't manage that anymore. However, if you took him on a pay as you play deal and he came to you on a free transfer, what a good subsitute to have if you needed a proven goal scorer to help chase the game for the last 15 minutes or so, or as back up to your first choice strikers..... that might even suit Owen better and also help him retain some of his fitness, Newcastle just needed to much from a player that was never going to be able to deliver 90 minutes week in and week out.

  • Comment number 47.

    I think he would be a great signing for Liverpool. No transfer fee and reduced wages would mean Benitez could spend his entire budget on a world class winger. Good mates with Carra and Gerrard, he would be able to settle straight away and would boost Lpool's quota of English players.

    Let's face it, an injury-prone Owen is better than Voronin!

  • Comment number 48.

    Owen is premier league quality he can score goals but as we have seen in the past few years only if he has the right stike partner. idealy a move to Aston Villa and being reunited with Heskey would be his best move. I feel it would also help his confidence having his old strike partner up front with him. I dont really feel a move to Everton would be god for him the style which they play wouldnt compleament Owen nor would the fact that in almost all of Everton's away games they choose to use one man up front and i very much dought that Owen would get ahaed of Yakubu in that case. Then there is Man City, is He going to be able to compete if ,as they claim, that they will sign the best players in the world and would he find himself in a similar situation to wehn he was at Madrid bought to sell shirts. they are probably the only team who would be able without dought to pay him big wages btu is that what Owen really wants/needs at this make or break stage of his career?
    A move to the capital with Spurs or West Ham would for footballing reason be very good for him. West Ham need a goal scorer and ther flowing style of play would mean Owen would be given enough chances to score the goals he needs for Capello's reconition. However has he has shown from his time at Newcastle he is unwilling to move from his north west home. Whoever he joins i hope its for purely footballing reasons and not to line his pockets.

  • Comment number 49.

    It is a huge gamble.

    Defoe is ahead of Owen in this type of strikers role and rightly so.
    Owen did nothing last season to suggest that he should be in the England team.

    However, a fully fit and in-form Owen will still get you goals. If he really wants to play for England in the WC next year he should consider not only taking a pay-cut but also a pay as you play contract. It will show people he's hungry and wants to play football.

    Staying in the Championship with Newcastle may not be a bad idea. He could get his confidence going by playing and scoring regulary in this division and I feel like some others that he owes Newcastle at least one good season.

    He needs to give something to Fabio to ponder. Get back fit, get back playing, get back scoring and who knows.

  • Comment number 50.

    I think he could still do a job for a good EPL side, even Liverpool would surely appreciate an extra option in case Torres's hamstring gets squeeky again. Lets face it, you would always rather have Michael Owen than you would David N'gog. Either way, he needs to get as far away from Newcastle as possible. A comical mess of a club, who seem incapable of keeping players fit. While hes there he'll have no chance of ressurecting a once-great career and he will never be considered for England. For me, a return to Liverpool would be good for him. Somewhere he's loved, where people remember the faith they had in him before, a fresh start at a club that obviously is going to mean a lot to him, and players like Gerrard and Torres who can only help him to rediscover his form.

  • Comment number 51.

    Last season he was Newcastle's top scorer with 10 goals (2 more than Martins). In the Premier League he scored the same as Craig Bellamy. So given an injury free season with good players around him at Villa or Everton, I'm sure he could once again be a 20 goal striker. He has been written off before and proved his critics wrong. I'm sure he will do it again. I wish him all the best and hope he will find form good enough to return to the England squad.

  • Comment number 52.

    I think if anyone is willing to gamble on him, then it would be Martin O'Neill. This is right up his ally. How many times has Martin O'Neill taken a player that is languishing in his career and turned them back into the player they were. I'd imagine that if Owen himself had to choose between Villa and another club he'd take Villa knowing that O'Neill has the ability to inspire him and fill him with the confidence he is lacking.

    I still think Owen is a class act, and he'll prove a lot of people wrong. Newcastle are a great club with a disgusting team, I don't many players coming back from the injuries Owen had, would have done much better in that team this season.

    As usual, English people are very quick to cast aside their once upon-a-time heroes! 2009-10 will be a good season for Owen!

  • Comment number 53.

    Michael Owen made a career error by moving to Newcastle United. He'll be welcome at Anfield but he must accept that he is going to be an impact player / substitute for Fernando Torres.

  • Comment number 54.


    You reckon his only reservation about joining Everton would be the reaction from both sets of supporters, I tell you most Evertonians couldn't care less, just a little cog in the wheel to potentially make us better. Why should he care if he wants to play and in Europe too then, he'll take whats on offer.....

    As for LFC, don't know. I'm pretty sure they still love him and well I think Stevie G would have it written into his contract to get Owen back if he could!

  • Comment number 55.

    Four years ago Newcastle United did what only the Toon could do - buy a player who no-one else would touch. Four injury ridden years later and nothing has changed.

    Those that know Owen well, personally, will confirm the fire is there. He yearns for the chance to shine on the big stage again and his absence from the England squad is something that pains him. Unfortunately, fire is nothing without health in this game and Owen was a shadow of his former self in his last Toon outings.

    Michael Owen should go abroad where he can become a cult and local hero for a team such as Panathaniakos etc - or go down to the Championship. He isn't capable of week in and week out Premier League performances any more. He might want to be, he might think he is, but anyone who has seen him in recent years knows the harsh reality.

    I feel for the guy because he had all the promise in the world, but his a tale of what could have been and will never be one of national legends.

  • Comment number 56.

    I think the main point of the catalogue is to back up his claims that he is fit. The rest is a cynical marketing ploy, but what can you expect from management firms in any field these days.

    Lets face it, Owen hasn't performed of late, but it's hardly surprising when you look at the team he was in, having to drop back to help the midfield on a regular basis pretty much says it all, he spent most of the season playing in the hole with his back to goal which is insane.

    I guess it didn't exactly motivate him when he was getting pressured by the fans to extend his contract mid-season, it was clear to all but the toon that a big wage signing on to a sinking ship is a bad move for all but they treated him terribly at a time when they needed to get behind the team.

    I think he should consider a move to France, emphasis on creative play, less physically demanding, within reach of his horses, could be the place to rebuild. If he gets 6 months playing well Everton/Villa/City (maybe even Liv/Arse) will snap him up at christmas.

  • Comment number 57.

    I think we should get Michael back at Liverpool. He would be perfect to bring in when Torres was out and could also play upfront alongside him.

    I think he needs some confidence though and someone to tell him to go and play upfront as a number 9 again (i know his shirt says 10). I think, at Madrid, he leared to play a bit and that has hampered his natural goal scoring insticts. Every good striker needs a good team around them though to create chance and he has had precious little of them at Newcastle.

    Come back to Liverpool Michael and do a bit of a Fowler for us!

  • Comment number 58.

    I once saw a documentary on Owen detailing his recovery from Injury suffered whilst playing for England. Rather than talking about his passion for playing for the toon, he seemed to spend the vast majority of the show talking about his wonderful new multi million pound horse training facility. Not sure he cares so much about football any more

  • Comment number 59.

    None of the top 4 will want him, and who among the other teams would be willing to pay 50k a week for a player who will sending in a sick note half the season. Not worth it by any stretch of the imagination. He'll probably see his contract out at Newcastle.

  • Comment number 60.

    I watched Owen at Newcastle when he was fit.
    Still a good bet if he can maintain his fitness
    because he is a highly intelligent player always
    two passes a head of the game which is why he
    manages to be in the right place at the right
    time to score all those goals.

  • Comment number 61.

    He's definitely worth a gamble. For next to nothing (in today's market) you're getting a top-class forward who has done it every level and whose credentials will stand up to anyone's scrutiny.

    Get him away from the Newcastle "physios" (seriously, I think the only medical equipment they have at St James' is a saw and a hammer) and he'll quickly remind the doubters of what he's all about. Yes he's been off his game this past season but it's hard to ignite something in a doomed team. In his previous seasons at Newcastle, though still blighted by injury, he had an impressive goals-to-games ratio.

    Always remember: form is temporary, class is permanent.

  • Comment number 62.

    Am i the only liverpool fan thinking that Owen would be welcome back with open arms? The darling of Anfield for so many years, those goals at Cardiffs Millenium stadium crushing Arsenals dreams in the fa cup, the super goal he scored for England in 1998, i know he doesnt have the pace but with Torres who has loads of pace, Owen would find the space to score goals. Come on Rafa, you did it with Fowler, do it with Owen! A simple one year rolling contract - 50k a week and you will make it all back as loads of fans will get owen put on the back of their shirt.

    As for his injuries, out of 38 league games, if he plays a part in 25 and score 10-12 goals then happy days.

  • Comment number 63.

    As you say phil, owen will find a good club no problem. I personally can see Moyes taking the punt on Owen because he is that good, and I feel everton lack a 6 yard poacher like owne is so very good at. And as you say a free proven premiership and international goal scorer for 50 odd grand a week isn't exactly a bad deal. Plus with his name they would get quite a bit of shirt money.

    With regards to Owen's fitness, it wouldn't surprise me if the moment he went to another club a lot of the injury problems would go. Newcastle have a history of players constantly having recurring non contact injuries, i've heard that their training facilities, the pitch specfically, cause major issues with muscle and tissue injuries.

    David James did a very interesting piece on the guardian website this weekend about the way clubs treat their injured players, and also how the players themselves deal with the recovery process. I haven't got a link thought but its on their! [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 64.

    He's going to Fulham. Trust me.

  • Comment number 65.

    In short : No.

  • Comment number 66.

    I don't think its a sensible gamble and Owen will be lucky to find a decent club. You can't tout him as top class player - the only notable thing he has done was 11 years ago and ever since has unfortunately been going downhill.

    The only way he can get back into the reckoning for an England spot is if he can play a season of decent football for a team in the top half of the prem - and i don't see any them willing to take that risk, and I don't see Owen being able to do that either. The fact is he is injury prone and even though its hard to say, he should maybe think about doing his coaching badges etc...

    Unless he wants to play in the Championship on a wage that is less than a quarter of what he gets now.

  • Comment number 67.

    someone up there mentioned about loyality in football.... well, Owen is def not one of those loyal player. As a Liverpool fan, Im still hurt by him leaving us for Real but thankfully, if he stayed that season we might not won the CL.

    the best deal he can get would be a pay-as-you-play deal. 40-50k a week would be reasonable ONLY IF he is not picking up any injury.

    there is alot of strikers who has no pace but with the finishing skill still around and playing for top teams. So as long as he has his fitness (not speed) back, then he would be a good addition for any team.

  • Comment number 68.

    Owen to Bolton? He'd probably scoff at the idea, as will most of you, but they could probably afford his wage bill and are used to picking up players on the cheap.
    He'd fit well into the line and would be guaranteed a first team place due to their small squad size

    it'll never happen though...or will it!!? ;p

  • Comment number 69.

    Please MON sign Michael Owen. He is exactly what the team needs and might give Gabby the kick up the pants that he obviously needs.

  • Comment number 70.

    I would love to have him at Tottenham - I think he would be a great fit.

    Maybe his confidence needs to return but I think he should still be in England's plans let alone anyone elses. Here's hoping for a great phoenix-like revival and 15+ goals next season.

  • Comment number 71.

    one of the best marksmen of his generation =
    WHAT RUBBISH. i think phil is one of his marketing men. it is great to see this overrated and smug nobody fall from grace. phil, 1 goal against argentina and 2 in an FA cup final mean nothin. he never hit 20 in a league season. at madrid he was proven to be out of his depth when compared to ronaldo (the best marksmen of his generation). he did nothing at euro 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2006. capello has the right idea saying owen brings nothing but goals (even they have dried up - the sitter against portsmouth). newcastle got a terrible deal when signing him (madrids payback for woodgate). never mid top 4, city, spurs, everton and villa will not find a place in the first 11. he is too arrogant to play on the bench. fulham, west ham, wigan, bolton, hull, sunderland, stoke, birmingham, wolves, burnley and blackburn cant pay his wages.
    that leaves portsmouth. they can pay his wages (if the takeover goes through) and would play him with crouch (little and large). with utaka leaving, kanu benched, nugent possibly leaving, benjani sold, 2 young forwards in koroma and subotic owen could find himself a place in the first 11. although the pompey takeover (and new manager) could mean buying better players or just not wanting owen at all. he should go to the USA, far east or mid-east to play for loads of money.
    i cannot beleive how much phil rates him. deluded.

  • Comment number 72.

    To BognorRock...agree totally. This is a matter of fitness - if he is fit he will score enough goals in the Premier League to make him a worthwhile investment.

    Interesting to see a couple of Liverpool fans saying they would welcome him back? And what about Everton fans? Is he right to be concerned about the reception a move to Goodison Park might provoke?

    David Moyes is an admirer and is thinking it over, but I bet lots of other managers are as well.

  • Comment number 73.

    * A mid-table club would look at Owen, wanting a top-draw goalscorer to fit in with their aspirations of improvement. As it is he's too much of a gamble for these teams with his fitness.
    * A struggling club might want to take the gamble, but are unlikely to provide him the support he needs to deliver the goods (and that's a proven at Newcastle)
    * A top-4 team would be looking for a proven goalscorer who can give them something extra in the last 20 minutes, and provide good service into the box.

    On balance, a top 4 team would be the best bet.

    If Liverpool could sign Fowler as an attacking option, they can sign Owen. And you only have to look at the near 10 year wilderness that Anelka floundered in before going to Chelsea and producing the goods.

    I'd put money on Fergie signing him on a free and everyone eating their words in 6 months time!

  • Comment number 74.

    Serves him right for turning his back on his country I say.... Wales that is. I hope he languishes in the lower divisions til he fizzles out into obscurity.
    See ya....

  • Comment number 75.

    Is there some sort of insurance problem with Owen is this the real reason He isn't getting called back to the England ste up didn't it cost the F.A £10,000,000 in compensation to Newcastle?

  • Comment number 76.

    You can mount all the defence you like, the broken club broken team, is made up of broken players. Duff is the same. Both he and Owen could have shone elsewhere and won more silverware. Owen has had more injuries. You can out all the brochures you like, but 30 top league managers can't be wrong. I don't see him fitting in anywhere into the top 30 strikers currently available nor the top 50 in the premeriship. Honestly this is like suggesting Zola or Di Matteo could still get a game. As usualy British Journalism creates a hasbeen and then laments his passing. If you genuinely think he has still has something for the premier league I am worried for you.

  • Comment number 77.

    Not sure if anyone else has mentioned this, but for me Owen has "Celtic target" written all over him at the moment.

  • Comment number 78.

    "Michael Owen DOES want to continue playing top class football and has reacted angrily to any suggestion that he doesn't."

    Well, he would say that, wouldn't he.

    How can someone who lately hasn't been playing much football, none of it 'top class', continue to play top class football.

  • Comment number 79.

    if he is fit he will score enough goals in the Premier League =
    no he will not. not against the top 4, or against any of the uefa cup or id-table teams. not against a relegation fighter. he is not held in high regard (since his flop at madrid which proved he is not a great player but a goal poacher). he is arrogant and smug and thinks he is too good for everyone outside the top 4, brca, real, juve and the milans. trust me. go to USA (most likely)

  • Comment number 80.


    How many times???!!

    Why do you get your posts put striaght on and we have to be moderated??? It drives people on this site mental!!!

    Live in the new world and just be reactively moderated, what is the issue? Does the BBC have a Quota system???

    Please make a lot of people a little happier.......

  • Comment number 81.

    He'd fit in perfectly at the Council House with rest of the WannaBe Hazbeens who are in for the pay packet!

  • Comment number 82.

    It's really easy to forget how good Owen was not that long ago or even to forget that he exists at all... It's easy to say with hindsight but I don't know what he was thinking joining Newcastle from Real Madrid. I saw a hilarious blog on this called 'Man wakes from coma, expects owen to play against Andorra' on a site called Back of the Net News and that kinda tells the whole story!

  • Comment number 83.

    I would want him at Pompey. His worse goalscoring record was last season and yet he still managed to score one goal in 3 appearances - some as a sub.

    With some decent service and Peter Crouch alongside I think he'd be back to 1 every two games pretty soon.

  • Comment number 84.

    Michael Owen has always been totally reliant on pace. I remember Jaap Stam in his autobiography saying that his touch was very poor and that he would not survive on the continent. He was roundly criticised, but proved to be right when Owen went to Madrid and could barely get a game. Now his pace has gone he shows no signs of being able to cope without it. His first touch is still not great. He has spent his entire career playing as an out an out goalscorer, offering nothing else. His contribution outside the box is non existent and not really good enough for the premiership. No top team has a 'goal hanger' any more. The days of carrying someone who can finish are long gone. The likes of Owen have been overtaken by a change in the game around them. Do you think any top team would pick a player like Gary Lineaker for example. Yes he could score, but he could not join in the play. Look at Torres, Villa etc. They are great finishers but can do everything else. Why was Van Nistelrooy discarded by United - he scored loads of goals, but the game had changed around him and he no longer had the ability required to fit into the team. Owen is the same. Not enough ability outside the six yard box. No pace or strength to get himself in goalscoring positions. Time is up. The Championship or a regular sub for a team like Spurs or Villa is the best he can expect.

  • Comment number 85.

    When I see some posts suggesting Owen was never any good, that he has never been an instintive goal scorer, and that his reputation was based on one WC goal agst Argentina (which wasn't intintive at all was it?)I am left wondering at the power of selective memory so here is something to jog it.

    Owen's GS record in just the PL whilst at Liverpool:
    97/98 18 goals from 36 games
    98/99 18 goals from 30 games
    99/00 11 goals from 27 games
    00/01 16 goals from 28 games
    01/02 19 goals from 29 games
    02/03 19 goals from 35 games
    03/04 16 goals from 29 games

    Then there is his cup goals as well as his England GS record.
    His record for Madrid is not bad either!

    Reputation based on one England game "My A.." as Ricky Tomlinson might say!

  • Comment number 86.

    I have to agree with an earlier poster. If he had any sort of scrupples, he would be helping Newcastle try for promotion. They stuck by him, doling out his wages, while he sat on the treatment table, (not his fault but, if if most people can't work they're on a reduced rate).

  • Comment number 87.

    Just a thought but, what if NO-ONE comes in for him? Then what does he do? Swallow his pride, take a huge pay-cut and stay at Newcastle? Or retire with his squillions in the bank and concentrate on his horses?

    If he stays then he will do so in the knowledge that us Newcastle fans don't back him anymore and the fact that the Championship will eat him alive.

    Personally, I think on a free transfer and reduced wages - IF he can stay fit, he could be a reasonable squad player for a bottom half Premier league team. But with that he would be showing he has no abition other than to get one last decent payday (don't forget that, as a free-agent he will command a signing on fee of around £2million!)

    I work in Risk Management involved in the insurance of footballers, and you would be surprised how common it is for agents and management companies to produce 'brochures' for their clients. We see hundreds of them every season! Even players at big clubs on long-term contracts...

    The reason the Michael Owen one has become such public knowledge is for the media to have yet another pop/laugh at Owen & NUFC's expense. Nothing more, nothing less.

    I would like to think Michael Owen for his time at Newcastle, but I feel I have nothing to thank him for - so I won't. Goodbye and goodluck little fella.....

  • Comment number 88.

    Anyone who watched any of the last 10 games that Newcastle played last season will realise that if you have no service you can't score a goal. I think this is why Shearer was so angry that Barton got sent off and suspended as his creation and possible long range goals (from what I saw of him at City) were crucial to their survival.

    To the comment that Rooney always turns up in comparison to Owen above well I don't think that is true and wonder if you watched the CL final or the times when Rooney has been sent off in competitons. Crouch was one of the best strikers in the premiership last season and he can't get a game for a top club (no matter how much us Liverpool fans were annoyed that he left) but his scoring record for England isn't quite as good as Owen. I would also be happy to see him back at Liverpool on a 1 year deal and he would pay for himself in terms of shirts and put an arm round Ngog in a similar way to Rush----->Aldridge---->Fowler----->Owen.

  • Comment number 89.

    No. He stands in the box and waits for chances. He might be good enough for one of the Premier League minnows but he didn't do much for Newcastle, did he?

    Without his pace he's as one dimensional as Inzaghi but at least Inzaghi scores goals.

  • Comment number 90.

    Hi Phil,

    Great blog. Considering Rafa is looking for a striker who is intelligent and a classic goal poacher, that will accept/need periods of rest, then Michael Owen would be a perfect candidate. Providing that he is trully healthy then, as a Liverpool fan, I would have no problem in him coming back to us. For Gods sake, the man is a free transfer.
    I really would not like to see him go to Goodison, as it will tarnish all the wonderfull memories he has given us over the years.

  • Comment number 91.

    anyone who seriously doubts that he can still put ball in the back of the net with the best of them needs to look at themselves. You don't lose the ability to be a good finisher, nor the instinct to be in the right place at the right time. His only lacks are fitness, which should be back, and desire. And all that he needs for desire to come back is a move to a decently managed club.

    We all know that Newcastle had become a joke - a new manager every other week, lack of quality around the team, and a sense of doom. It was always going to be a mistake going there, but he didn't have much choice at the time.

    I really hope Everton snap him up. He was a fan of them, and they have the quality and need a finisher, a poacher. He'll sniff them some good success if they take the risk, i'm sure of it. And god knows England needs his quality back in front of goal rather than looking at the likes of Crouch.

    Quality is permanent, and Owen has that in spades. If he can just hold himself together...

  • Comment number 92.



  • Comment number 93.

    I think that Michael Owen owe's NUFC one season on a pay as you play deal. He has shown no desire to perform for us. He should donate some of his (cough!!) hard earned pay to charity.

  • Comment number 94.

    As an Everton fan I'd take a punt on Owen. I don't think the majority of blues would take umbridge if he was to sign for us.

    I echo Phil's words saying that Owen was playing in a broken team at a broken club. It's hardly as if Newcastle were creating many chances. Shearer's tactics weren't exactly subtle either.

    To those who say his style of play won't suit Everton, I would disagree. We play some lovely stuff at times and have some excellent footballers. We create a lot of chances and if Owen was to sign I believe that Moyes would work his magic again and have him scoring in no time.

  • Comment number 95.

    I think Everton could be an excellent fit for both the club and Owen.

    If everton are able to secure the services of Steven Hunt from Reading then they will have a couple of wingers who are capable of getting the ball in the box. With Cahill and Arteta they will also have people in the middle capable of picking out his runs and giving him the service he needs.

  • Comment number 96.

    It would be great to see Owen playing for another Premiership side and scoring 20+ goals, but thats unlikely to happen. He'd better off seeing out his days helping out Newcastle in the Championship and helping them maybe getting back up again.

  • Comment number 97.

    Anyone that says Michael Owen has lived off the goal in 1998 or isnt a natural finisher clearly does not follow football. Michael Owen has proven pedigree averaging a goal every 2.04 games even with the terrible injury record. This is a similar average to premiership greats such as Thierry Henry (2.05) and better than current Liverpool striker Fernando Torres (2.32).

    It is clear that Owen is not the player he once was but with a free run from injury and confidence then he will definitely score goals. He would be a quality signing for Villa or Everton especially on a free and pay as you play deal. There is no doubt Owen will get a premier league club and a good one at that.

  • Comment number 98.

    In defence of Owen, he still scored 30 goals in 70 odd starts for Newcastle. Considering he has been playing in a shocking team, and has had numerous spells out with injury (and subsequent returns searching for match fitness), that's not a bad record.

    He's not worth the money we pay him, but for 50 grand a week on a free transfer he's an absolute bargain. He'll score 20 goals next season in the Premier League easily if he plays regularly in a decent side. Granted he hasn't got the pace he used to, but his touch, technique, finishing and intelligence are all top class.

  • Comment number 99.

    Owen, sadly, is well past it. He used to be quick, hard-working, clinical and full of desire for the game. He now has none of these qualities and as an effect he should no longer be commanding such a hefty salary.

    It seems to me as if he gives more time to outside interests such as horses and houses.

    In fairness to Owen he came onto the scene as a 17 year old and has been playing at the highest level for over 12 years now, so it is no wonder he is spent at 29. I wish him luck for who ever he joins, if he fancies a pay-as-you-play deal at Cardiff, he would be most welcome!!

  • Comment number 100.

    Good blog Phil. I don't think any manager from the big 4 will sign him: he is too fragile and has over-relied on his dwindling pace to be a top notch striker anymore. Owen isn't, say, a Teddy Sherringham who was a catalyst who could improve a team and didn't need pace to contribute to his club.
    David Moyes may gamble on signing him on a pay as you play basis but even then some fans of the Toffees would argue there are quicker, younger and ,crucially, hungrier strikers than Owen on the market.What motivates Owen play on: trophies or money? His signing for the Magpies suggested the latter, but perhaps Moyes believes Owen could be tempted to sign by the carrot of being the returning prodigal son who could shoot Everton to fourth place past an Arsenal team who look to be compromised by an unbalanced squad, a soft defence, a lack of leaders on the pitch and a manager who seems to have lost his pespective on the club's current state.

    But Owen only played 71 games for Newcastle so wherever he goes it could initially be on a short term contract to prove his fitness.


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