One Step Forward, Two Steps Back For Owen
So, the last two days Michael Owen was all over the British press making bold statements about his fitness, his England chances and the possibility of starting more games for Manchester United. 20 minutes in to the clash against Wolfsburg, Berbatov replaced him and it was a case of back to square one for Owen and I’m left scratching my head as to why he even started tonight’s match.
He didn’t train yesterday because of a groin injury, so as soon as I saw the interview with The Times today, I felt that perhaps Owen was tempting fate. I’m not pleased to say that he had indeed pushed his luck with cosmic karma. He wanted the opportunity to start a game for Manchester United and he got it. He wanted Fabio Capello to watch him play and he was at Old Trafford tonight. He wanted an opportunity to impress him but 15 minutes in, the groin went and with it, the chance to push for a place in the last two competitive match squads before the World Cup next Summer.
The interview with Owen intrigued me, mostly because he’s scored 2 goals as a substitute so for Manchester United this season. In the games he’s started he hasn’t scored, or played particularly well. 7 English strikers have scored more and are playing regularly, whilst Theo Walcott is just returning and Emile Heskey is not a goalscorer. Whilst no-one can argue that between 1998 and 2004, Owen was a class apart as a striker, since that point, he has endured an injury nightmare.
Regardless what his ridiculous brochure stated in the summer, Owen hasn’t played more than 30 games in a season for 5 years. He hasn’t hit more than 20 league goals since the 2002-03 season. Since Euro 2004, he’s scored 7 England goals in competitive games and 7 in friendlies, and regardless of what he was, it is clear that he is not the striker he was before Euro 2004.
Now, I’m a fan of Michael Owen, the footballer. Well I was a fan, but regardless of what Owen says, I am not convinced he will ever get back to the level of performance that he showed up until the European Championships of 2004. It is a case of people wearing rose tinted glasses and I do not understand why people are still falling for the hype in regards to recalling him to the England team. People will always recall the goal against Argentina in St Etienne but that was 11 years ago. 11 years!
This is the England team that put 9 goals past Croatia. This is the England team that has qualified for the World Cup winning 8 consecutive games. This is the England team that have scored 48 goals in the 18 matches under Fabio Capello. Can someone explain to me what the strikers aren’t currently doing that means England need Michael Owen? Having an average of 2.7 goals per game is a phenomenal record at international level, does it require an injury prone striker to add to it.
England do not need Michael Owen, Michael Owen needs England. If Owen was anywhere near the level of 2004, I’d have him in the squad in a heartbeat, but he isn’t. Owen is living on past glories and media buddies. England can win the World Cup without him and as he sits on the sidelines once again, people need to have more faith in Fabio Capello. The clamour for Owen’s inclusion does Capello a disservice and it’s about time we drew a line under Michael Owen’s England career and looked to the future.