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Michael Owen to Man United – Gamble or not?

owen Michael Owen to Man United – Gamble or not?

£56 million here… £80 million there… this summer has been dominated by the outlandish spending of a select few, with transfer records tumbling at every turn. But one deal that will grab most of the headlines could well be a free transfer.

Michael Owen, labelled a fallen idol, a faded star, even a has-been by the media, looks set to complete a dramatic move to Manchester United.

Just a week ago Owen’s options looked far more limited, he had admitted in an interview with Sky Sports that staying at Newcastle wasn’t an option, but the only two clubs publicly declaring an interest were Stoke and Hull.

Were they serious contenders? I guess we will never know, but as soon as United came in I doubt Owen will have taken long to make his mind up.

Talk has immediately been about Eric Cantona and Teddy Sheringham, two aging players who seemingly had their best years behind them but were inspired by Ferguson at Old Trafford and helped the club to numerous trophies. Similarly the likes of Scholes and Giggs have continued to flourish at the club despite being well into their thirties.

Is Owen another Ferguson masterstroke? Or is it a desperate move in the wake of failed moves for Benzema and Ribery, as well as the departures of Ronaldo and Tevez?

Owen’s form certainly doesn’t make him a prized asset. Without a goal since January he cut a forlorn figure towards the end of last season as his Newcastle side tumbled towards the Championship. His injury record also suggests he would struggle to make it through a full campaign, complete with Champions League matches, unscathed.
That is, of course, an outcome Sir Alex Ferguson seems willing to risk, counter balanced by what he feels he is getting for relatively little outlay.

First off is Owen’s goalscoring record. Despite his injury worries Owen managed 30 goals in 65 starts for Newcastle; even with my poor maths that is nearly one in two. With vast array of creative talent on offer at Old Trafford they have no problem carving out chances. And the one thing that hasn’t diminished with Owen is his finishing ability.

He will no doubt put through a stringent medial, especially on the knee that he damaged at the 2006 World Cup. He will only sign if they are certain he is fit enough. But again he will be joining a number of attacking players in large squad – I doubt he will be forced to play more than three games in a week unless he really has to.

Another factor, and the one that I think persuaded Ferguson to go for Owen, is motivation. Owen will have been hurt by the events of the last six months – I can imagine the Newcastle training ground has not been a happy place to work recently and has hardly encouraged a players best form.

Also given the English media’s penchant building up players only to revel in knocking them down; they have been quick to write Michael Owen off. The former Liverpool man’s determination to prove his critics wrong could be enough to ensure he can re-discover his form.

Add to that the fact that it is a World Cup year. Fabio Capello has shown he will pick players on form and would no doubt relish having a fully fit Michael Owen firing on all cylinders in his squad. A seat on the plane to South Africa could restore the fire in Owen’s belly and Ferguson wants United to benefit from that.

Looking at those reasons the deal suddenly looks like a no brainer. If he fails then he will only cost the club his wages, likely to be largely paid on a performance related basis. If he succeeds, then United will have one of the country’s greatest goal scorers in their ranks for absolutely nothing.

I would be interested to hear United fan’s thought on this issue – is it merely a desperate insurance policy for Ferguson with his transfer shopping list reducing seemingly by the day? Or is it another piece of managerial genius?

If Owen does succeed what will Liverpool fans think? If they had shown an interest I am sure Owen would have made the move back to Anfield. With finances tight at Liverpool should they have made move? Let me know your thoughts.

An Evertonian and a Liverpudlian up front for United – I never thought I would see the day!  icon wink Michael Owen to Man United – Gamble or not?

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28 Responses to Michael Owen to Man United – Gamble or not?

  1. JD says:

    Clearly not a desperation buy with only 3 days having passed since the transfer window opened. Its the most sensible move Fergie could have made. Why pay £16M for Fabiano, £50M for Aguero or £20M for Huntelaar when a goalscorer with similar ratios IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE is available for free?
    Berbatov is not an awful player over night; with Ronaldo not taking every opportunity to shoot rather than pass, Berba and Rooney will definately improve their ratios (especially as one of them will take penalties). Owen is far superior to Tevez in goal scoring ability and will get more than the paltry 5 tevez managed (Owen got 8 in a relegation team). Owen provides quality cover and guaranteed goals – whilst allowing the likes of Welbeck and Macheda to continue to develop.

  2. prashanth says:

    am a ardent liverpool fan .. but i will sure respect ferguson if his move pays off .. the minute i heard bout the deal the same things you have written here ran through my mind .. hope owen shines but… liverpool .. champions 2010

  3. Bradley Richardson says:

    My thought is that Sir Alex is getting a quality striker at a bargain. A good move. Show that the Red Devils aren’t desparate and save the funds for the January transfer window when the market is not as competitive.

  4. Tyson says:

    I don’t think its a bad move actually all Fergies doing is looking for somebody to substitute either Berbatov or Rooney should either one of them get injured.

    Whoever we sign won’t be playing in all the games and will probably rarely be first team material.

    That fits in with Owens profile who is a free agent and will practically be playing on a pay as good as you play basis.

    I think that gives us enough back up to the striking team because we really need to focus on the midfield now.

  5. Yogesh says:

    He is a proven goal scorer and as you mentioned his finishing has not waned. His time in Newcastle was jinxed.

    At Real Madrid, even when he was confined to bench, he came and scored important goals. His Goal in El Classico was top class finish. As long as he gets the passes, he will score goals. Even in his injury prone years, his work ethics were never in question. Very precious quality which is sadly given any credit these days.

    I hope that he finishes off with goals and trophies which he deserves given his talent and composure.

  6. edgar says:

    I don’t know what to say. As a manchester united fan, i am stuck in the middle. I know Owen has been one of the greatest strikers in the premier league before. His health has been a huge issue for him in recent years. I have seen that even at Newcastle, when he was surrounded by nothing but rubbish, he looks to still have the touch at times. I don’t know, on a free transfer, why not Fergie, roll the dice. Hell, even if he just scored a winner against Liverpool next season, that would do it for me!!! I would actually like to have Rossi back that would be great!

  7. Another great move by Fergie. Can you imagine bringing in a World Class striker in the 80th minute? I know CRondaldo has been sold as some sort of superhero by the English media for his exploits against the likes of Hull, Stoke and Boro, but when has CRonaldo ever done this against a worthy opponent:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cHM31XoXMg

    I know CRonaldo has had plenty of similar moments against Charlton and West Brom but never against Argentina, Germany or France like Owen. In fact CRonaldo melted under the pressure against France and Germany in Portugal’s last two major tournaments.

    • Thomas says:

      I think it is a gross oversimplification to say Ronaldo only had moments of brilliance against the likes of Hull and Wigan. He was the best player on the best team in Europe. Ronaldo showed up big in the CL the year United won it. Missed the penalty, but still scored a big goal in the Final.

  8. manubhoy says:

    Kartik, I’m a United fan who was fine with the Ronaldo sale, and I think that the Owen deal is low-risk, high-rewards so it’s worth it to see if he has anything left.

    That being said, the comment you made is unfair. Michael Owen hasn’t done anything against a big team in years. Argentina was 11 years ago, he’s a totally different player now. And yes, Ronaldo might be a bit of a flat track bully, but those goals against the mid-table teams won United the last 3 league championships, and he did score in a Champions League final. And if my memory serves, he’s barely scored for Portugal the last few years, no matter the opponent.

    • Tyson says:

      Thats a pile of crap actually Owens name is in disrepute but he is a better player than Tevez without a doubt.

      Last year Owen was ravaged by injuries and only managed to score 10 goals in 31 appearances in what was one of his worst seasons. That gives him an average of a goal every 3.1 games.

      On the other hand Tevez had 20 more appearances(51) and only put in 5 more goals(15) giving him a ratio of 3.4

      So your telling me Owen who is injury ravaged and has his worse season is only slightly worse off than a man who is playing with a world class side, getting a lot more goal scoring opportunities and is perfectly fine health wise?

      If I had to pick Tevez for 25.5 million or Owen for free I know I wouldn’t think twice about it. Even if they were the same price it’d be a tough choice considering experience is key at the upper echelons of football.

      It’s all very easy buying into the media hype about players about how good or bad they are but the fact of the matter is if you look at it logically you quickly come to realise the media loves sensationalising things.

      A sensible person looks at the facts and thinks about things logically and from a logical point of view this is a very sound investment in all regards.

  9. Charlie says:

    It’s not a gamble at all. It could be a master stroke of genius, in fact. Owen has to stay healthy, of course, but to me it’s a low-risk, high-potential move.

    United still has to do something to upgrade the midfield, especially with Possebon being sent out on loan. There’s plenty of time left in the transfer window and plenty of cash in the wallet to get this done, though.

  10. Thomas says:

    Haven’t been a big Michael Owen fan. But I do respect his abilities on the field.

    When healthy, he has a solid goal return everywhere he’s played. Did alright on a poor Newcastle side.

    Good piece of business by SAF. If it pans out, great for United. If not, they haven’t spent any of the transfer kitty to land him, and they are back at square one.

    I think this will be a big confidence boost for Owen. Interesting to see him play in a side that has a lot of quality again.

  11. smithy says:

    i think hes crap!!!!
    im gutted that an x liverpool player is wearing manchester utd colours.i wouldnt mind so much if he was good.hes shit!!!!
    he is luckey to play 4 the best team in the world even if hes is a crap player!!!

  12. Creaven says:

    I’m surprised more people aren’t on board with this. I think it’s a great business move and if it doesn’t work, who cares, it’s not as thought United is throwing away much (or any) money. You can read my full thoughts on the signing at my Web site, here: http://intelligentsoccer.com/?p=351

  13. The Gaffer says:

    I’m really shocked by Alex Ferguson’s decision to sign Michael Owen. I don’t doubt Owen’s talents. He’s been one of the most prolific English strikers in the past decade, but my concerns regarding the move are two-fold.

    One, I wonder if Owen will have the patience to sit on the bench for long periods of the season, because all I see Owen being used for is as a super-sub to bring on when United needs a man with the clinical finish — similar to how Fergie used Solskjaer and Larsson in the past.

    Second, I’m not confident that Owen is going to be able to regain his total fitness. Just as soon as he seems to get better, he falls victim to another injury again. Even when fully restored, he may not be anywhere near the old Michael Owen due to his concerns about getting injured again.

    If Owen is content to sit on the bench and is confident that he can return from injury pretty quickly, then I don’t see the harm in having Owen in the squad. However, these are big if’s.

    Cheers,
    The Gaffer

  14. SSReporters says:

    Awful. Awful. Awful signing.

  15. Thomas says:

    I’m not sure how people see a signing of a once prolific striker as a bad move. Especially since the signing will cost United nothing but Owens wages.

    If he doesn’t contribute, it’s not as if you’ve spent 10mil on a player where you could have invested it somewhere else.

  16. pedropete says:

    Just seen a kid in Liverpool with a Man U shirt with Owens name on the back, good business or what? laughing all the way to the bank. man U have just made the catch of the century without a ball being kicked. just wait and watch what happens when Owen nets a few goals,he will become one of Uniteds best selling products worldwide. Liverpool FC have just shot themselves in the foot. Michael Owen is already a worldwide legend,and worth his weight in diamonds, to a marketing man,getting him for free is a master stoke. Most managers, Football and Business ones in the premier league will be asking themselves and kicking themselves for not signing him, including the blinkered ones at Anfield. Why they did not bring him back is beyond comprehension and a mystery to a sixtyseven year old Liverpool supporter.there is no sentiment in business,and the wily Sir Alex has just proved this.

  17. motm says:

    I am not a Man U fan, but I am a football fan. I am very excited about the move. I look forward to Michael Owen regaining his former briliance, whilst helping Man U on the way.

  18. Sean says:

    Since the contract appears to be almost entirely incentive based resting on the amount of minutes played and the number of goals scored it is much like the contract I signed with my parents when I was playing recreational soccer at 6 years old. With Owen now playing for his lively-hood it may just be the right incentive. Hey, it worked for me. I once tallied 9 goals in one game for a paycheck.

  19. JLay says:

    Another wily signing by Ferguson (though we still like to grab Huntelaar or Fabiano for cover).

    Worst case scenario, he gets hurt or starts whining about playing time. No big deal, we can release him from his contract or stash him on the reserves and we’re out what? $120 for his kit? First and last month’s rent plus the security deposit? I can live with that.

    Best case scenario, that lion-sized chip on his shoulder inspires him to rediscover some of that 2001 form – we get another Cantona for next to nothing. I think that’s a problem that Fergie’s more than willing to have – it would be very easy to move Rooney back to the off-wing position or to bench Berbatov.

    I really don’t see a downside… at all!

  20. Thomas says:

    The whole thing must have something to do with Benitez.

    I don’t see why Liverpool didn’t sign him up. As Owen’s own representatives have done wonderful job of already, look at the players around him at Newcastle. Hardly his fault.

    And I totally agree with JLay. There’s really no downside to the signing.

    And I also don’t see United forced to rely on him like Newcastle were. If he’s hurt, he’ll be able to recover in a timely manner.

    If United get 8-10 goal from him, which is more than possible, that’s a great return. And who knows, he could hit his stride and revert to the Michael Owen of old.

    Without Ronaldo, United need a goal scorer. And honestly, they haven’t had a player (except Ronaldo), who’s had the deadly finnishing that Owen posses since they sold Ruud.

  21. Celiwe says:

    i think he must be given a chance to prove himself once again.He is a proven goalscrorer.

  22. Gaz says:

    As a Liverpool man… I’m less than happy. It seems sacrilegious! :)

    Seriously though… Owen is one of my favorite players and I’d love to see him back on form (even if it is for United).

    Having said that… he’s sooo injury prone. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him fit for only 30% of the games. Is it really worth it?

  23. JLay says:

    Absolutely worth it if the numbers I read are correct (£20k / week plus hefty play/goal incentives). While a less-wealthy club might balk at a £20k / week gamble, that’s pocket change for United.

    8-10 goals from Owen would be a great return – Tevez wasn’t good for much more than that and he would’ve cost us £25m + £120k a week.

    Agree with the Pool fans, it will be odd seeing him in a United kit but I welcome him with open arms!

    Hey Fergie- now that Prissyano is gone, why don’t we bury the hatchet and bring Ruud back too? He’s not the player he was 10 or even 5 years ago, but the guy can still finish. I think he’d make a great Solskjaer 2.0…

  24. CA_backpacker says:

    This is why MU is the top of the EPL and L’pool always seems to look up the table, and I am a L’pool fan saying that! Sure, Owen’s health would prevent me from wanting L’pool to try to get him back for any real $$ or salary, but if he was available as a free transfer, and (if it is true) with a salary that is very much tied to performance? If Liverpool could have picked up Owen under those conditions, why the hell didn’t they? Did they even try contacting Owen?

  25. Gaz says:

    Again, Owen is one of my favorite players. I don’t like that he is joining United after starting off as a Liverpool player, but I really do hope he gets back to form. He was the wonder boy!

    But would you pay anything / week for his Newcastle performances? If I were a manager, I don’t think I would contact him either. Especially considering most teams (Liverpool included) aren’t really in the financial state to be taking risks right now. United can take a risk like this… but you have to understand that it IS just that – a risk.

    I know, I know – that’s Newcastle, not United. But this is a pretty big long shot. Even if he does get back to form you have to then worry about him getting injured and having to start all over again.

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