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Owen worth Man Utd gamble

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Phil McNulty | 07:24 UK time, Friday, 3 July 2009

Sir Alex Ferguson placed his faith in something he trusts far more than a glossy brochure when he picked up the phone and offered Michael Owen a new home at Manchester United.

Owen's management team produced the 32-page magazine advertising their client's qualities - aspirational, cool, devoted and sincere to name but four - and delivered a slick reminder of why he was once one of football's genuine superstars.

Ferguson does not do brochures to buy players. Pure instinct and the love of a punt is often enough and the shock pursuit of Owen, mocked only days ago when Hull City and Stoke City declared an interest, is a prime example.

United's vast budget, helped by £80m from Real Madrid for Cristiano Ronaldo, lets Ferguson shop at the sharp end of the market - but also gives him the opportunity to take the odd chance. Owen falls neatly into that bracket as prospective targets Karim Benzema, David Villa and Franck Ribery go elsewhere.

So is this a sign of desperation creeping into United's transfer dealings or another piece of inspiration from the gambler Ferguson?

Ferguson has got form for the maverick deal. Eric Cantona was not a regular at Leeds United when Ferguson took him across the M62 and elevated him to Old Trafford's legends.

Laurent Blanc was an itch Ferguson simply had to scratch and that was not a huge success, but Teddy Sheringham came late to Old Trafford and cleaned up on silverware, while the veteran Henrik Larsson made a contribution when he joined United on loan from Helsingborg in December 2006.

Blanc and Larsson were players Ferguson had long wanted at Old Trafford and it was source of regret that he only got his hands on them in the twilight of their careers. Owen has tempted him before, but now he feels the time and price is right.

As I noted in an earlier blog, Owen represents a gamble worth taking and his wages are not prohibitive when lesser talents will be going for just as much this summer.

The shock of this story is Owen's destination. Hull and Stoke were never serious options, but Everton and Aston Villa were - only for United to come out of left field on Thursday afternoon.

So who gets what from this transfer? And will certain other clubs come to regret leaving the field free for Ferguson to set up a deal that comes as a surprise, even to the supposedly unshockable Premier League community?

For Owen, this is a staggering opportunity that he could never have imagined being placed in front of him when he trudged off Villa Park after another fruitless cameo appearance for Newcastle United as they dropped into the Championship.

And yet, for all the shockwaves this move will cause, Owen will not turn turn up at Old Trafford believing Ferguson has done him a good turn. He will feel he can benefit Manchester United just as much as they can benefit him.

He has an iron shield of self-belief and has never lost the conviction that his rightful place is at a top four club with aspirations of winning the Premier League and the Champions League.

Michael Owen is searching for a new club

If anyone doubts that, then they do not know Michael Owen. Single-minded barely does him justice and those who speculated that he had lost his love of football were equally wrong-headed.

This is what made him extraordinary at 16 and will fuel him when he walks into Old Trafford.

He is unlikely to worry about his status with Liverpool's fans if he puts pen to paper with rivals United, even though a return to Anfield has probably always been his preferred option, especially when he left Real Madrid.

Owen still has influential supporters inside Liverpool's dressing room who would like to see him back at Anfield, but manager Rafael Benitez has remained unmoved on Owen.

It is a view shaped when he left for Spain at the start of his reign in 2004 and refused to hold out for a move back to Anfield when Newcastle came calling 12 months later - a decision rightly based on the player's fears of missing the next summer's World Cup.

Owen will see United as the perfect platform for one last stab at persuaduing Fabio Capello that he is worthy of consideration for England's World Cup campaign in South Africa next summer.

And he could hardly have asked for a better stage to demonstrate that he should still play a part with England, especially with Wayne Rooney in tandem at club level. Try as you might, it is impossible to detect a downside in this deal for Owen.

United's reasoning will come under closer scrutiny - but Ferguson's move is based on both need and logic as well as his own gut feeling.

Manchester United supporters expecting the arrival of world superstars may need convincing that Owen is the direction they should be heading in. Owen will split opinion, but goals shape verdicts and if he hits the mark early all previous allegiances and injuries will be forgotten.

Ferguson has watched United's potency decreased by the departure of Ronaldo and, to a much lesser extent, Carlos Tevez. Owen may have lost the searing pace of his youth, but his goalscoring record when fit still stands up to serious examination.

And as someone who watched United regularly last season, if there was one element missing from the squad that deservedly claimed a third successive Premier League title, it was a ruthless, killer instinct. Owen will never lose that and the pragmatist in Ferguson tells him that, even at 29, he can add an extra dimension to United.

If United create chances, which they do with regularity, Owen is still as good as anyone around at converting them if he is playing and this will have been the final reckoning for Ferguson, who will tailor his role and appearances to draw the best out of such an accomplioshed marksman.

Owen's fitness will be the question mark over the deal, but Ferguson's medical team have mastered such things before and it is unlikely he will be thrust into United's side as a regular.

The striker was being mocked for his failure to attract serious interest only days ago. It does not get more serious than Manchester United - so do not bet against Owen having the last laugh.

For Owen, the deal is a huge victory. For United and Ferguson it represents a gamble - but it is a gamble based on some sound footballing logic and one that others might yet regret not taking.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Ferguson must have taken the glossy brochure on holiday with him and liked what he read. I still cannot make my mind up whether Owen would be a good signing though. True, on his day he is top-notch and will score goals. But surely he cannot last a full season without picking up an injury. Mind you, Ferguson might be boxing clever and using Owen as an example for the younger lads at Old Trafford to look up to. One thing Owen has always had going for him is that he is a model professional. He will be a better example to up-and-coming players than Ronaldo, for example, ever was.

  • Comment number 2.

    so unbelievably ripping this seems to be happening. can't get my head round him being willing to join the mancs.

  • Comment number 3.

    Is Owen still worth a gamble? - 09:51 UK time, Monday, 15 June 2009

    Some inconsistencies Phil.

    My opinion is he is worth the gamble. I'd wish we would take him back at Liverpool.

  • Comment number 4.

    As a Man Utd fan, i'm pretty plaese with this!

    I think this is a win win situation for both parties. Man Utd will get a proven goal scorer for free and will probably get him on a much smaller salary hevaily weighted towards performance and appearances. and owen will get a good push for the world cup squad at one of the biggest clubs in the world with champions league football.

    I don't think Owen's injury problems are entirely down to him. At Real Madrid he was reletively injury free and with man utd's world class medical team i think most of those issues will hopefully sort themselves out.

    Imagine hows things would of turned out if Man Utd managed to sign him when he left Real...

  • Comment number 5.

    Any chance of a non united article one day please Phil?

  • Comment number 6.

    I think Michael Owen is definitely worth the gamble as long as he is happy to be a squad player because there is no way he should be anywhere near Rooney and Berbatov on his recent form. I know he's very injury prone and is probably not the same player he used to be because of all the injuries but he is sure worth a punt on a free transfer.

  • Comment number 7.

    The problem I see with this move is that I don't see Owen being able to partner anyone up front other than Rooney. Imagine if Berbatov an Owen were together? I can't see them two working at all well.

  • Comment number 8.

    Cristiano Ronaldo out Antonio Valencia in
    Carlos Tevez out Michael Owen in
    Hardly good replacements, bad times for United fans get used to not winning trophies again. Giggs and Tevez have had it, Van Der Sar and Rio arent getting any younger. If Liverpool can hold on to Mascherano and Xabi Alonso and Gerrard and Torres keep fit they have got a great chance of the league and the champions league. They dont need valencia just play nani. If they have 100m to spend why are they not competing with Real Madrid for Benzema, Villa or Ribery?? I'm not likeing the black V on the new home shirt either!! Fergie will prob step down the minute Man utd are not dominant. LFC 4 LIFE RAFA RAFA BENITEZ!!!

  • Comment number 9.

    Great signing for Man Utd This could be the move that seals Michael Owen's World Cup place. Its a win win situation for Man Utd and Michael Owen. Fergie cant lose with this move it could be the signing of the summer. Only time will tell.

  • Comment number 10.

    To be honest, gamble it may be, but it's a completely risk-free one.

    Getting Owen on a 'free' means that even if he doesn't work out, he's cost only wages which in comparison to a transfer fee are paltry.

    Wish Liverpool had taken the chance.

  • Comment number 11.

    This is a very big gamble for united with hint of desperation. Am sorry Phil but no matter how much you try and sell Owen the guy is past it and he will just be another flop. Harsh ? maybe but any striker will surley once in a while find the net at United with the chances they make. The nagging thing for me is that defenders today are whole new monster and Owen for all his PAST!!!! goal scoring talents will find that what he was has indeed come and gone and it aint coming back. Sorry.

  • Comment number 12.

    I think this could be a great punt for United. I have always been a fan of Owen's Predatory instinct and he would be a great squad addition.
    Owen never got to show his full potential at Newcastle; he was playing in a team that was under achieving and playing without confidence. Owen tried to adapt his game by going deep to pick up the ball out of desperation to make something happen which on most occasions resulted in nothing, as his strength is receiving the ball in box. As for the injury side, I beleive the reason for a lot of his problems were poor training facilities at Newcastle (a lot of players complained about the training pitch and were picking up similar injuries) and also Newscastle rushing Owen back to the first team before fully fit.
    Good luck Owen, i think this will be a great move for both parties

  • Comment number 13.

    Owen has a better gols per game ration than Tevez last season which included two fairly serious injuries. Personally I don't want Tevez to stay he worked hard and scored some vital goals but an overall package of £32 million for him is ridiculous he aint that good because if he was he would have been a regular. Owen is proven and with the chances that Rooney, Berbatov, Valencia etc can make for him expect at least 20 off him next season. Owen got 10 last season in a shambles of a team that couldn't score a goal for love nor money and the ones he did score he had to basically make for himself. Owen had to drop deeep and help develop play at united he can sit in the box and do what he does best score goals are you watching Rafa...!

  • Comment number 14.

    Phil seems to be Owen's unofficial cheerleader and spokesperson

    Good enough for Man Utd - 7/8 years ago. Yep
    Good enough for Everton/Villa. Nope.
    Hull/Stoke worth a pay as you play punt. Yep

  • Comment number 15.

    Am not really all that happy he is off to United to be honest.

    However Phil, Owen is the sort of striker that thrives on confidence. To gain this he needs a substantial amount of minutes on the pitch. I don't think he will be able to function as an impact striker which i guess is how he will be used with Berbatov and Rooney starting. What do you think?

  • Comment number 16.

    As a Huddersfield Town fan, I have to say he's worth a gamble - we'll take him....

  • Comment number 17.

    If the performance related pay is to be believed - a small basic salary but if you play and score goals you'll earn as much as anyone, it seems a win win all round. If he isn't on the money, or gets injured, then Owen Hargreaves will have someone to chat with in the medical room.

    If however, Owen forms an understanding with Berbatov, Rooney, Valcenia and Carrick, then this could be a stroke of genius.

    Even with all Ronaldo's goals, United lacked a simple poacher, they create hundreds of chances that go begging. The 1-0's last season were not all about defending and playing badly, many were simply chances squandered. Owen (annoyingly when at Liverpool) always seemed to be in the right place to take a chance. Like a natural feeling of where to be.

    I think this is a gamble well worth taking, the squad will embrace his arrival and his experience, and at this point I can see no downside to the deal!

  • Comment number 18.

    To poster 3.

    I, like just about everyone else, did not believe a top four club would come in for Owen unless Rafael Benitez had a sudden chance of heart and took him back to Liverpool.

    In my last blog I made it quite clear I did not feel he was the player he once was, but I have never hidden my admiration for Owen - much to the annoyance of many posters I should add.

    In my previous Owen blog I stated; "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."

    And also: "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."

    I guess I just never thought Sir Alex Ferguson would be the man tempted.

    And just to clear up a complaint about another blog involving Manchester United...what is the big football story today, a story that has even pushed Andy Murray off some back pages?

    Owen and United is football's big talking point today. So let's get the debate started.

  • Comment number 19.

    On past evidence, Alex Ferguson and Michael Owen will form a stable relationship.

    Not so sure about the football, though.

  • Comment number 20.

    As a United fan, I'd say he's worth a gamble. No transfer fee, and if he can get a pre-season under his belt his fitness and sharpness may finally return. It's a gamble, yes, but as ever with Fergie it's a calculated one.

  • Comment number 21.

    A pretty smart and good deal for both Man U and Owen I think (and i'm a Liverpool fan)..... but does that mean Utd's front two partnership will now be known as Shrek and Wreck?!

  • Comment number 22.

    This is going to be a tough one, on one hand Owen on his day and fit is one of the greatest strikers to have graced the premiership/world stage.

    on the other his form the last couple of seasons has been awful through continuous injury and lack of any real support/service from team mates.

    I think it is a gamble that may pay off. Yes, Owen doesn't have the blistering pace he used to, but he won't need it. Utd have plenty of energy in the team and will provide top quality service to Owen. He will have to play smart, finding opportune moments to move for the passes or dropping into gaps awaiting delivery. Only then will his potency in front of goal shine through. Let the young guns run around and do the hard work getting the ball into the danger zone, then call on his experience and slide it into the net.

    I would still like Fergie to bring in a top rated striker. Or at the very least see more of our youth team/reserve strikers being utilised. Get them some regular first team footie, even if it means borrowing the Wenger approach and dedicating one cup to them,playing only our young untested players.

  • Comment number 23.

    8. At 10:09am on 03 Jul 2009, fernandotorres9- wrote:
    .....I'm not likeing the black V on the new home shirt either!!
    LOL I bet when you the salesman asks you what kind of car you want to buy you answer "a red one, with go-faster stripes"

  • Comment number 24.

    It is a total risk. But he is what we need - a goalscorer. If him and Rooney can link up well, we'll have a fantastic strike-partnership capable of scoring plenty of goals against any team.

  • Comment number 25.

    yet another good call from the Godfather of football, Sir Alex. Owen on his day and when fit can bang in the goals, and in a team like utd with the service he will get i can see him getting between 15-20 goals, easily! Owen is a great example and model professional, here's hoping he can stay fit for the Red Devils. my bet that he will also get the no.20 shirt, and follow in solskjaer's footsteps in supersub!

  • Comment number 26.

    If its a free transfer with sensible wages, I don't see it as a massive gamble to add Owen to the squad, but it would be a massive mistake for SAF to view him as a first choice striker. I am sure SAF has a bigger fish in mind for that role.

  • Comment number 27.

    Owen would be very useful to Utd who are bringing a lot of young guns through and who will benefit no end from regular training with Owen. Valencia is also accused of not having the killer finish and so again, Owen's influence may be more felt in training than just on the pitch - Fergie knows exactly what he's doing and can see the big picture more than most

  • Comment number 28.

    Even Inzaghi and Van Nistelrooy offer more than Owen - at least when they stand around, showing their lack of pace, you KNOW they'll take the chances they've been standing around, waiting for.

    This is a regression. Forwards nowadays offer so much variety, why has Fergie plumped for the most one dimensional striker? Worrying.

  • Comment number 29.

    this could be a master stroke, i still believe in michael owen's ability.

    only reservation, aside from the injuries of course, will he form a better partnership with rooney than the one they shared for england?

  • Comment number 30.

    As an Arsenal fan, all I can say is B*gger! I wish Wenger had snapped him up.

    How is it a risk to pick up a player for no fee whatsoever, and relatively low wages compared to his would be colleagues, and has a proven track record of scoring at the highest level as long as the supply is right (and I think even Ronoldoless it will be right at Man Utd)?

    Yes his fitness is questioned but Utd have a good record of looking after and managing players (if you ignore Hargreaves), and he won't be a starter every week which will help maintain the dodgy hamstrings from wear and tear. I reckon Man Utd have found themselves the ideal guy to finish off lower PL clubs that they often overcomplicate against, and a fantastic option to pull off the bench in big tight games.

    As I said at the top...b*gger!

  • Comment number 31.

    If Sir Alex was looking for a role model older player for younger ones to look up to then I think Owen would actually be the worst buy of the century! I'm not sure what he has got to show the young guns - work ethic? that football comes first? I'm not sure how Ferguson can dispense of the aging Van. Nistelrooy - the selfish goal poacher who became too much of a bad influence on the younger players and then replace him with a shorter, slower, more injury prone version.

  • Comment number 32.

    Gamble or no gamble, Owen will score goals for any team that give him plenty of chances. The lower down the league he goes the more unproductive he becomes. Moving to Newcastle was a massive mistake but he could just pull his career round if he seals this move. All eyes on him and Champions League football too. The reward is clearly there
    - A good season and he's on the plane to SA.

    Must get his management company to have a look at my CV!

    Oh and I suppose it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a good tidy up around Old Trafford. Wouldn't want him tripping over anything!

  • Comment number 33.

    He's coming for free and not as high wages as our other players and he's quite clearly going to be a backup. I don't mind. He'll be a good sub. Maybe challenge Berbatov for a place to partner Rooney. I's very surprising that it happened so quickly but not surprising if you look at Owen and our other strikers. All different. And again, he's free.

  • Comment number 34.

    A lot of people on the 606 forum have said that United can't get the best players and now have to settle for second best.

    And I've stuck up for United, suggesting that that isn't the case at all. But now, I'm having to have to have a rethink.

    Alex Ferguson has never in the past shown much interest in Owen. Now, when he's lost a yard of pace and spends most of his time in the treatment room, he wants to buy him.

    Owen has always been a fantastic finisher but I don't believe he fits into the United system as a player who can join in play creatively. He's a goal poacher and I don't think makes the grade.

    He goes missing for large parts of the game. People will say that doesn't matter when he can score at any moment, but players going missing isn't the United way of playing.

    If Ferguson does sign him, I'm sure he'll be used as a player to come on and nick a goal should they need it, not a lot more than that.

  • Comment number 35.

    This is good news for England's World Cup bid next summer. We are still short of strikers and if Owen can have a decent season he might come in handy to scare the Argies a bit.

  • Comment number 36.

    Oh this is getting a tad bizarre for us!

    Let's put it into perspective Phil - Owen can put the wayward balls in. Undoubtedly so. However, he does take a position in our eleven! I reiterate this. That position could be filled in with someone we pay for! Grafite, please?! Call Wolfsburg now, Fergie!

    I think Fergie is being more than a bit careful with his money here. And, in turn that's brought in by the Glazers - the 80 mil. should, a large chunk of it, remain in the balance sheet!

    How many goals will he score in 20-odd games he plays for us? 15? 18? That's not what we need! We need Villa...

    Speculative, desperate, myopic decision, that.

  • Comment number 37.

    "Owen represents a gamble worth taking and his wages are not prohibitive when lesser talents will be going for just as much this summer."

    In the five seasons since Owen left Liverpool - the 'business' end of his career, you might say - he's scored 44 goals. 44 divided by five equals less than ten goals a year. The stats for Carlos Tevez in the same period of time? 57 goals in five years. Given how his tally last season was hampered a lot by the arrival of Berbatov (14 in the season before the Bulgarian arrived, 5 in the one he was there) and he spent a long amount of time in that West Ham season on the bench, I think there's a little paradox in the argument about Tevez not being potent but Owen being 'a natural goalscorer'.

    "Try as you might, it is impossible to detect a downside in this deal for Owen."

    Surely if he's stuck on the bench not playing, at age 29 and just before a world cup, that would be a downside? Especially if the deal's loaded with per appearance and per goal sums rather than a large weekly wage. I can't really see him getting ahead of Rooney and Berbatov, and then there's the young talents of Macheda and Welbeck to compete with.

    "Owen may have lost the searing pace of his youth..."

    This is something often said, but there's another truth hidden behind this more obvious one: Owen's lost pretty much any pace he ever had. At least you still see it in Henry and Anelka in bursts - Owen's legs have gone. Mentioning 'searing pace' implies that, although not quite as fast, he can still motor. He cannot. If Owen were up against his 18 year old self in a race the result would be truly embarassing; I'd go as far as to say I don't think Owen can run 100m in 13 seconds anymore. Given in his teens he could probably hit 10.5 seconds, that's a big difference (and, sadly for Owen, almost exactly the same amount the Prem League has sped up in the past 10 years).

  • Comment number 38.

    If there's any entertainment to be derived from this, it's the whiplash-quick turnaround from some Man Utd fans about Owen.

  • Comment number 39.

    At 10:05am on 03 Jul 2009, Barca Baggie (Formerly yellowmondeo) wrote:
    Any chance of a non united article one day please Phil?

    Well seeing as Phil McNulty is notoriously the biggest pro Liverpool writer on the bbc. (and occasionally writes with red tinted spectacles) i think yr comment is a little way off the mark.

    As well as supporting my local team. i'm a liverpool fan btw

  • Comment number 40.

    Owen was a superb striker when he had PACE, he's now much slower over the turf and crucially in reacting to the ball in front of him.

    He missed some SITTERS for the Mags (including 2 one-on-ones in the run in), had he converted a couple of them they would have stayed up.

    He no longer hacks it against top defenders.

    Taggart surprises me.

  • Comment number 41.

    I think it is a worthy gamble but all the old school United fans I know would rather sign Robbie Fowler than Michael Owen who was loathed on an un-almost unpredecented scale.

  • Comment number 42.

    All this talk about Michael Owen resurrecting his career by moving to MUFC reminds me of what happened with another Michael only a few days ago. A great career spoiled by injury. Loss of the main attributes that made him great(?). Kept afloat by past rather than current form and contribution. Aspirations to represent his country again, when all the indicators say "it's over". Eventually, Michael Vaughan had to accept the reality. I suspect it won't be long before Michael Owen has to do the same.

  • Comment number 43.

    this is one of your best blogs IMO Phil, not just coz i am a utd supporter, but it also (hopefully) puts an end to the doubting of Owen. In a utd shirt and with the players around him, owen is made to score goals. if he is fit i can see him easily scoring 15-20 goals next season. Fergie wouldnt do this for a laugh or as a favour, he obviously believes owen can still do a good job. so who is anyone to doubt the master??

  • Comment number 44.

    for free and the right wages why not hes good in the air to isnt he? i cant remember but i think he is and we need someone who can score headers other then vidic.let just hope we can keep him fit

  • Comment number 45.

    It's an interesting decision, and as you say it's easy for Fergie to make. Owen still wants lots of cash, but the sensible option is to pay him a low basic wage, with lots of high reward bonuses if he scores goals. If Owen scores 20 goals in the league, he's worth 100K a week. If smaller clubs, such as Hull, offered this type of deal Owen would reject it. The pull of Man U, and the benefits to his international career, means it's worth the gamble for Owen. It's actually a good bet for all parties.

    As a Liverpool fan, the nostalgic in me would like to see him back. However, we don't have the financial luxuries of Man U, Chelsea and Man C. We have to be more businesslike. We have an excellent team, that ran Utd very close last term. We need to buy a few sure bets, who will definitely make a difference. I believe Glen Johnson will prove a great success. The most important thing for Liverpool though, is to keep Alonso and Mascherano. Keeping them will be the greatest signings we can hope for this summer.

    On a final note, when Owen left us for Real Madrid, we won the European Cup. If he joins Man U, it would be fitting for us to win the English league again. 18 all hurts, it's about time we win our trophy back.

  • Comment number 46.

    I always felt Owen will be a worth gamble to take, because as Phil mentioned, when he is fit, his scoring record has been phenomenal. Most importantly, he doesn't cost a penny to be added, and his contract can be highly incentivised. Fergi, go ahead. we're rightly aligned with your gamble.

  • Comment number 47.

    I remember the days when people said Henry was finished...and hes just won the La Liga and Champs League with Barca....Also, people write off Shevchenko...and hes still banging them in at international level..Owen is younger than both of these. I believe he is still a good player, he just needs a good club and Utd may well be that club.

  • Comment number 48.

    Great Player Michael Owen. He was awesome at Liverpool, very good at Madrid and his record at Newcastle was not shabby. When he is fit he is guaranteed to get you goals. Gutted Rafa hasn't gone back for him.This could well turn out to be the buy of the summer. Just hope he remains in the hearts of Liverpool fans.

  • Comment number 49.

    Offloading Owen's wage bill will be great for Newcastle. If the mancs want to throw money away it's up to them....good luck!

  • Comment number 50.

    ". At 10:25am on 03 Jul 2009, Hugh1985 wrote:
    If Sir Alex was looking for a role model older player for younger ones to look up to then I think Owen would actually be the worst buy of the century!"

    are you actually kidding me? owen is the ideal footballer both on and off the field, he cant exactly help injuries, its not he has wished them upon himself. and off the field his behaviour is second to none. hes hardly the party animal of todays footballers standards and he only ever gets pictured at the races, hardly criminal now is it?

    owen for me is worth the gamble provided the right contract is in place. and who is anyone to question fergies judgement? certainly not anyone on these boards......

  • Comment number 51.

    'Try as you might, it is impossible to detect a downside in this deal for Owen' - Phil McNulty / PM Blog

    ??? I N J U R Y???

  • Comment number 52.

    No matter what Man Utd do , these journalists always seem to make it out to be a good move...haha

  • Comment number 53.

    i think that owen would be a waste of money at 29 as with berba and rooney up front he wouldn't start and wont get the regular football he needs to become the player he once was. also in the transefer rumours
    it says he cost newcastle 41mil and we should spend that money more wisely on someone like benzema, Eto or someone that is not old and unfit. in a united season united play 50-60 games a year so we need 3 class strikers like tevez, berba, rooney. owen will be injured half the time only being available for 25 - 30 games a year is apalling as he would start for half of them so 12-15 matches is rubbish please dont sign him fergie

  • Comment number 54.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 55.

    People keep saying that it's a "win win" situation. Not really. If Rooney or Berba are injured, it will be up to Owen to take their place. And while we know he WAS a brilliant striker, it hasn't been seen recently. Ok, that could be blamed on injury and the fact he was at Newcastle (Don't think there was a consistent player at all for them last season), but if it's a simple fact that he has just lost it, Utd could be left short. Big gamble for them.
    As for Owen, there is no way that he will be getting regular football (unless of course an injury in the squad gets him in) and therefore it will NOT be a good move to "get him a place in the England squad". The reason players are moving from big teams is to make sure they get first team action to prove to international managers that they have what it takes for 2010 World Cup.
    Big risks for both party's, methinks.


  • Comment number 56.

    I dont think owen will start up front for United. He may have lost his pace but none of his scoring instinct. 242 goals from 555 games (club and Int) is very very good.

    Scholes has lost the goals from his game so I can see Owen taking over from him as the Drive from Midfield, with late runs into the box onto loose balls, as he played there a few times for Newcastle last season.

    Owens has turned quite injury prone over the last 4 years but that is unlucky. At United he will get fitter. Look what happened to Van Nistelrooy, and Giggs had a big problem a few years back but came back stronger. And of course Nevilles last 2 years have not been great but he got back into the last England Squad.

    This will be a good deal for Both. United get a proven Goalscorer on a Play to Pay contract and England get back their best chance of winning the World Cup.

  • Comment number 57.

    Not sure why people are surprised, it makes perfect sense. We saw this formula 10 years ago. Rooney and Berbatov are to Yorke and Cole as Owen will be to Solskjaer. He's going to be used in that super sub role, nothing more. Above all else he's not going to cost anything. Fergie will still have his entire transfer kitty to spend while gaining the luxury of having a 29 year old Michael Owen to bring off the bench, and I can't imagine that being a bad thing.

    For Owen this is almost certainly his last chance at some silverware, which I'm certain he knows. I'm also certain he knows the role he'll play and realises he wouldn't be first choice at any top 4 club. Good move for both parties involved.

  • Comment number 58.

    " And as someone who watched United regularly last season, if there was one element missing from the squad that deservedly claimed a third successive Premier League title, it was a ruthless, killer instinct. Owen will never lose that "

    What a load of tosh , you just demonstrated that your knowledge of football is tainted, I see Owen play last season and he has lost that killer instinct!

  • Comment number 59.

    Owen to Man Utd. seems ridiculous to me. Why not then just get Saha back from Everton? He is far more useful than Owen. But this Owen story raises the suspicion that some of the money from the Ronaldo transfer will also be used to pay off debt. The move would be great for Owen though, even for very little pay.

  • Comment number 60.

    Considering what Owen can achieve when fit, and the fact he's a free agent i cant see the downside, as said both sides are set to gain something from this, even if it dosent work out.

    Ultimately United need an extra couple of stikers, and Owen is a player with a great ability to score goals, when given good service, as long as he is not the only striker we sign this summer i will be over the moon with this deal!

  • Comment number 61.

    I can't see United losing out here. Owen has everything to prove. If it doesn't work out then its not cost much. If it does, and they win the league again, it will be a sweet sidestory that a former Kop favourite will have helped to take the title to Old Trafford again.

    As to people not believing that Owen would consider going to Old Trafford given his Liverpool roots. Owen made no secret of his loyalty to Liverpool, however what did they do in return? He must have felt gutted in the manner his loyalty was repaid.

  • Comment number 62.

    The move won't do anything for Owen's England career, since he will spend almost all of next season on the bench, probably physios.

  • Comment number 63.

    Phil, when you say that owen still has admirers in the Anfield dressing room, the only two players you could possibly be talking about are gerrard and Carragher. so, essentially, his mates want their friend back at the club.

    Rafa is hardly the kind of man to listen to his subordinates is he? especially when they are not thinking with their heads.

    having said this, i think owen is a better signing for utd than he would be for Liverpool. if he gets on a good run he will also sideline rooney to the left again - much to my hilarity.

  • Comment number 64.

    I have always liked Owen very much, even more than Beckham and was really sad at the way he was treated during his short spell in Real Madrid. In fact as a At Madrid supporter, back then I could't help supporting RM with Zidane, Owen, Woodgate, Beckham in the squad. But after helping, by way of doing nothing very much, to relegate Newcastle I have no respect for someone whose first statement is, "I want to stay in the Premier league". Well, you have to deserve such honour...

  • Comment number 65.

    I am not sure about this gamble but I have always like Owen and if we can keep him fit then I think he and Rooney could be a great patnership for us & England. But thats IF we keep him fit. I would still like a big name transfer but dont think we will get it. Maybe a left winger? What do people think?

  • Comment number 66.

    Owen and Berbatov, ManU are surely shaping as world beaters for next season.


  • Comment number 67.

    United seem to be going backwards by the day. What's the point of taking Valencia when we already have Nani? What's the point of taking Owen when we already have young promising talent in that department already on the books? I'd prefer to see Machida getting a bigger role next season.
    Ronaldo has left an unfillable hole and as this can't be made up with a similar kind of player, United need someone who can really boss and set things up from mid-field. Anderson and Carrick (or any other mid-field palyer we already have) don't fit the bill.
    We also need to look seriously at the problems caused by Ferdinand's almost constant injury woes. I don't think Johnny Evans fills the gap consistently well enough.
    So it's a world-class midfielder and central defender that are required. The likes of Michael Owen are just not going to help.

  • Comment number 68.

    Some thoughts:

    Owen must really regret the day he didn't sign his Liverpool contract extension a few years ago.

    He won't play 38 ganes a season, but would work well with Berbatov in a 'big guy, little guy' combination.

    This provides the opportunity for Rooney to develop into the successor to Paul Scholes as attacking midfielder in 'the hole'. With his bulky physique, Rooney won't have pace for much longer.

    Owen had better beef up the security for his family in "Owen Street".

    About £25m cheaper than Tevez, and will score more goals!!

  • Comment number 69.

    a " gamble" that what it is - it can either payoff or be a total disaster. But if MANU are serious about retaining the title they must spend that Ronaldo cash on a proper striker. I dont see any defences running scared of facing a Michael Owen. The 1-0 wins will turn into 0 0 draws and the 1-1 draws will turn into 1-0 losses with this strikeforce. Thats how good Roanaldo was and It will be asking too much to expect Owen to step and score those goals.

  • Comment number 70.

    I always thought that Owen would come back to the Prem, though obviously I didn't think Man U were one of the interested parties. SAF has taken heart to injured players he sees quality in. He signed Ruud, even though the guy was out for almost a year just beforehand. He sticks by players who get injured in his own squad, and I think this is all partly because he knows that Man U have some of, if not the, best sport physios in the world. For a guy with high level experience of all kind, who despite the history of injuries still manages to make a 2:1 goal ratio, who is still below 30 years old and is completely free, it is good business.

  • Comment number 71.

    Owen's glory days are surely behind him. Clearly United have taken a step back in replacing Ronaldo and Tevez with Valencia and Owen respectively.

  • Comment number 72.

    Is this really how low Man Utd have sunk?

    Little money and seemingly their targets are all flocking to Real Madrid as well as their best players.

    Obviously they have no trust in Rooney's goalscoring ability to put their faith in player who passed his prime over 5 years ago such as Owen

  • Comment number 73.

    Of course after Ronaldo leaves, every new signing is going to be viewed through the prism of being a "replacement". There is no replacing Ronaldo, and there is no emulating the way United played last 2 or 3 seasons. They adapt. Owen doesn't need to replace Ronaldo, nor does Alex intend for him to. It is, in of itself, a good, low-risk piece of business.

  • Comment number 74.

    Intersting one. I personally think that Owen isn't past it (hes still only 29), but is just too injury prone. However, since United are getting him for nothing, theres no real harm done, and, if he gets fit and finds form that he is capable of it could be the biggest bargin since United brought Eric Cantona for £1million.

  • Comment number 75.

    I don't really see why this is such a shock. Put any player in THAT Newcastle team and they look like a pub player

    Owen scored 4 goals in his 5 LAST England appearances, almost single-handedly rescuing our failed Euro 2006 bid.

    This shows if you surround him with good players, you get the best out of him

    So he plays 25 to 30 games, only - he could easily score 15 as it would be the FIRST time he has been in an attacking team since his early Liverpool days

    In addition, anyone saying that he cannot play with Rooney is talking bunkum. England had a very good 2004, with them two as the strikers, only Rooney's injury and our inability to take penalties cost us

  • Comment number 76.

    There will be a few Sick as the Proverbial Parrot managers this morning, kicking themselves that they have hesitated on making an approach for Owen.

    Were they waiting for Alex to endorse the guy? If they were then they have seriously missed the boat big time. Stubborn Rafa certainly has, even after reports that his captain made a plea for him to sign Owen. Why didn't David Moyes step in earlier, or Martin O Neil ? Maybe even Mr Wenger had Owen in mind to convert the dozens of chances that went begging for him last season.

    Surely they were not listening to Big Sam's comments regarding his previous injuries. Albeit that his goal to game ratio at Newcastle was respectable, no one with any knowledge can judge Owen's time there as being detrimental to signing him. Even a Kaka at Newcastle would have found it tough going and frankly worse than Walls End Boys Club.

    If the deal goes through it will be an inspired move by SAF, he will have done the business yet again. Michael could not be in better hands.

  • Comment number 77.

    My thoughts are that Owen is certainly worth the gamble. I can't think that he will be starting every game but he is still a class player and with Sir Alex, who is the master of bringing the best from players, plus the team around him he can only succeed. Also look at the stupid prices that are being touted around for players who two years ago would be worth half of what is bieng offered now. I trust the gaffer to get it right again...we have a good biggest concern would be Midfield if Hargreaves doesn't make it back...that is where I would like to see the money spent

  • Comment number 78.

    As a Liverpool fan who has always remained very fond of Owen, I will be DEVASTATED if he goes to the Mancs. I can see why he would, it's the best/only option he's got. But how awful will it be to see him scoring goals for that lot??

    Please Rafa, change your mind and bring him back home, even if only to P off Mr Ferguson!!

  • Comment number 79.

    In any case, surely this will not be Fergie's only forward signing of the summer. If a player of equal quality and potential came to Utd for free, yet who DIDN'T have Owen's "fallen star" reputation, there would be little fuss about it.

  • Comment number 80.

    Mr_Twilight wrote:
    1) "True, on his day he is top-notch and will score goals."

    2) "surely he cannot last a full season without picking up an injury"

    We at Newcastle would like to pass an opinion on point 1 but based on the last four seasons we are unable to comment. (If you want someone to miss sitters as MO did in several crucial games then he is your man.)

    As regards point 2 we at Newcastle are the world authorities on this question. He is injury prone and will without undoubtedly pick up more injuries. What made it particularly galling over the last two seasons was he stated that he wanted to get fit to get "his" England place back!

    If MU go for him - will he pass the medical - I think you are in for Saha mark 2.

  • Comment number 81.

    I've been one of Owens' biggest critics since his last days at Liverpool and ever since he returned to Newcastle, he seems to have lost interest, you can tell in his body language.
    However, if he goes to Man U and the contract is structured correctly, this could work out for both parties. If he can stay fit, I'm sure that playing for Fergie at Man U could reignite that spark.

  • Comment number 82.

    Owen at ManU, a football gamble - yes! However ManU has carefully cultivated an image of a club where English talent can thrive and this has won them many friends in the highest echelons of English football.

    Taking on Owen IMO is part of this carefully cultivated image. The goal is to get Owen into Capello's team and bask in the glory of having resurrected the career of one of England's best strikers.

    The deal will go through if Owen stays injury free. Playing as a regular sub at ManU he should be able to score 12-15 goals during the season. He's never scored 20 in the premiership so it won't happen now.

    This is a well thought out transfer! Goodluck to Owen.

  • Comment number 83.

    If Carlos Tevez didn't get much of look in what chance has Owen got??? Out of the two i'd take Tevez first and second. We all know what Owen could do but now I think he has a lot of thinking to do, Utd will not be a good move for him, he needs regular football something he won't get at Utd.

  • Comment number 84.

    Has Phil McNulty ever written a blog where he states either Man Utd, or Alec Ferguson have ever made a mistake, or a bad decision?

    Ronaldo sale good for the club
    Valencia brilliant
    Owne brilliant

    Seriously. Its so biased I find it hard to read. Eric Cantona may as well be writing it

  • Comment number 85.

    teddy sheringham anyone?

    Fergie was roundly criticised then too: people saying he was too old, too slow, past it and unlikely to play many games...not a fit replacement for Eric Cantona (who was also criticised on his arrival at OT)...only for super-Ted to go on and basically win the FA cup and champions league finals for united in 1999, cementing his place in Utd's history.

    yes Owen isnt as fast, yes he's not played exceptionally well at newcastle, yes he's injured alot...still though: Put him in a team high on confidence who create chances for fun (as Carrick, Rooney, Berba, Giggs et all do!) then owen WILL stick them in the back of the net.

    mentioning giggs: three years ago 'fans' were screaming he was past it and ineffectual...who got PFA player of the year last year? Ryan Giggs. I personally am going to trust fergie's judgement on this one!

  • Comment number 86.

    "It is a view shaped when he left for Spain at the start of his reign in 2004 and refused to hold out for a move back to Anfield when Newcastle came calling 12 months later - a decision rightly based on the player's fears of missing the next summer's World Cup."

    Sorry Phil but that's stretching the truth a little don't you think. In 2004 Sven was still in charge of the England team, that would be Sven who picked his favourite players if they could stand let alone run (anyone else remember the match vs Spain when Beckham had had one training session since breaking his leg and STILL started the match).

    Owen was never in danger of losing his place in the England squad he went to Newcastle for one reason - money!
    Hasn't it served him well.

  • Comment number 87.

    One or two interesting posts from Liverpool fans here. Has Rafael Benitez missed a trick by not getting Owen back on a free transfer?

  • Comment number 88.

    this is a joke, desperation is right, no one wants to go to united i would seem, valencia and owen, im a gunner and i wouldnt accept them

  • Comment number 89.

    Definetly worth it, not a gamble at all in my eyes. Ok owen has lost a yard or two in pace but how fast do you need to be in the 6 yard box.

    I also remember a very high profile pundit a few years ago suggesting Sir Alex had got it wrong.

    I believe the exact comment was

    "you never win anything with kids"

    bottom line

    Alex knows what he's doing!!!!

  • Comment number 90.

    only time will tell if owen will be a success at united,but this is obviously a desperation buy!SAF couldnt get the strikers he really wanted,so hes been forced to sign owen.
    i worry about our lack of pace up front,and if owen gets injured again,we will be very light for strikers.

  • Comment number 91.

    Very irritating this - a week ago people were saying he wasn't worth a gamble for Hull, but now he's worth a gamble for United?

  • Comment number 92.

    IF he passes the stringent medical, I think he will be a great signing.
    He will be asked to fire the bullets and stay in the danger zone, something he is brilliant at. Maybe he's lost 15% of his pace , but class will out, and he will have great players around him.
    I think the player and my team will benefit and be really ready to prove themselves again from the season opener to season end.
    Hope the deal comes off ,finally Owen will grab the P/L medal he covets..!
    Well done SAF.

  • Comment number 93.

    Only in the world of Phil "Man Utd" McNulty could this be seen as a smart moved.

    Even when he was at his 19 year old peak, he never managed 20 league goals.

    2004 11 goals
    2005 0 goals
    2006 7 goals
    2007 11 goals
    2008 8 goals

    A team like Man Utd, the supposed pinacle of football replacing Tevez and Ronaldo with Owen and Valencia.

    That just spells out "we are skint"

  • Comment number 94.

    I've never been a big fan of Owen - as an all-round footballer he leaves a lot to be desired and without that pace that thrust him onto the world stage it's difficult to see what he can offer a club outside the top 3 or 4 as they need much more man for man than someone like United. Owen playing in a team where the midfield and defence can put chances on a plate, however, is a different story entirely.

    Van Nistelrooy was never a ball-player - yet he sored a shedload of goals because all the creativity in Uniteds ranks ensured that all he had to do was rely on his killer instincts and bang the ball in. Now I'm not directly comparing the two but there is one key similarity between the two that stands up - the fact that both are out and out goalscorers.

    To draw another comparison - compare Arsenal's relatively barren period over the last few seasons and then analyse them closely - all the creative and attacking talent in the world won't put the ball in the back of the net if you haven't got a goalscorer up top - Adebayor was meant to be that player but has been firing blanks for a while now.
    I love watching Asrenal's football (and for a Wednesday fan that's a BIG admission) but they don't have that edge in front of goal - the man that sticks in the scrappy one that gets you a 1 - 0 away win on a rainy Wednesday in Burnley.

    Look at all the top teams over the years and they all have an out and out striker up front:

    Real Madrid: Raul

    Barcelona: Eto'o

    Man Utd: Van Niistelrooy, Cole, Soljskaer

    Chelsea: Drogba

    Arsenal: Henry (Stretches the point a bit because he's one of the most wonderfully creative players I've ever seen but the biggest thing he gave to Arsenal was firepower and they've yet to replace him)

    Sheffield Wednesday: David Hirst (Sorry - couldn't help myself - indulgent I know !!)

    For me, if Ferguson can keep Owen fit and playing this will turn out to be a good piece of business - 20 goals a season in United's first team for the next 3 years will be mana from heaven for the Old Trafford faithful. Owen is a one-dimensional player, and as many have rightly pointed out, has lost the extra yard that brought him to fame - but in the right team, a team that only needs that one dimension to succeed even further - he'll get a sackful . . . .

  • Comment number 95.

    As England fans we should all applaud this move. A fit and goal scoring Owen is better than Heskey/Crouch all day long.
    Fergie could be doing the nation a massive favour!!

  • Comment number 96.

    Cristiano Ronaldo out Antonio Valencia in
    Carlos Tevez out Michael Owen in
    Hardly good replacements, bad times for United fans get used to not winning trophies again. Giggs and Tevez have had it, Van Der Sar and Rio arent getting any younger. If Liverpool can hold on to Mascherano and Xabi Alonso and Gerrard and Torres keep fit they have got a great chance of the league and the champions league. They dont need valencia just play nani. If they have 100m to spend why are they not competing with Real Madrid for Benzema, Villa or Ribery?? I'm not likeing the black V on the new home shirt either!! Fergie will prob step down the minute Man utd are not dominant. LFC 4 LIFE RAFA RAFA BENITEZ!!!


    I know I am in no position to talk what so ever but this comment is just ridiculous! United have some superb young players coming through in defensive and attacking options.....Macheda.....Jonny Evans(great player).....Wellbeck......Gibson.....The Da Silva twins.........

    And Liverpool have......wait for it...........Lucas (toilet).....Ngog.........and ?????????????????????????????????????????

    Good thing you are not a manager! See you at the Lane on the 15th Ausgust

  • Comment number 97.

    How appropriate that the player who showed such extreme disloyalty to Liverpool - by stringing the club along while allowing his contract to run down to get a free transfer - should be considering joining the club's arch enemy, Manchester United.

  • Comment number 98.

    To be honest, I had been expecting Liverpool to make a similar move. Obviously Rafa isn't taken with Owen but I think that in addition they don't have the financial leeway to take this kind of gamble. Can't really see Benitez selling the prospect of a frequently injured, bit-part player, local hero notwithstanding coming to Anfield to the yanks.

    However (and its a big however), I think this could be the perfect move for Man U. One assumes that pay will have a significant performance-related component, decreasing the gamble and Owen will offer something different at Man U, even if it is for just the last 25 mins of 50% of games.

    When I was thinking of Liverpool making the bid, I had in my mind games like their series of home draws this season. I don't think its ridiculous to suggest that Owen could have helped them get another 4 points from those matches, giving them a much better shout of the title and suddenly looking like value for money.

    The big downside to this deal is his injury record at Newcastle but even that has a possible silver lining: it seems like the moment a player walks through the doors at St James' Park they get their legs broken as a matter of course - Newcastle seem to suffer so many injuries! No idea why this might be but I don't think its unreasonable to suggest that Owen has a much better chance of staying fit at Old Trafford.

    Going to be an interesting season.

  • Comment number 99.

    Yes he is definitely worth a gamble, thats the bottom line.
    IF fit he can contribute the same goals as Tevez and i thought all along that he was the man to sign instead of spending 32mill on tevez (26mill plus 3mill each during the 2 loan yrs). When you also consider that Owens wages are likely to be a fraction of Tevez's then it makes total sense.
    A former Ballon D'or winner needs to perform to:
    - take his wages closer to the 90,000 mark
    - to make the England team for the World cup next year
    - and to prove he still has it and restore pride in himself
    I really cannot see anything but plus points for both sides
    Either he performs and is a success or he doesnt perform but will have had his chance and it wont cost United any more than if they had signed Sidibe from Stoke!

  • Comment number 100.

    Owen will certainly act as back up striker behind rooney and berbatov which could be beneficial to him with his injury problems. It would allow time for him to fully recover from injuries instead of going to a Stoke or Hull where he would act as the main goal threat and as he did with Newcastle play when not 100% fit. I have the feeling that he will be like Louis Saha in that for a large proportion of the season he will be unavailable and does not solve the space left by the deparures of Ronaldo and Tevez.


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