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The Curse Of Michael Owen

In 2004, he left Liverpool for Real Madrid in search of Champions League glory. Early on, Madrid mostly shackled him to their bench and later ducked out to Juventus in the first knock-out round. The Liverpool players bounced on the big stage in Istanbul: lifting the trophy without him.

The next season, after Liverpool didn’t take him back, he moved to Newcastle, citing the chance to play alongside the great Alan Shearer as a big part of what drew him to Tyneside. He’d spent much of Shearer’s final season (and most of the next year) out injured.

He was once the most exciting young striker for England. 18 years and 59 days old when he hit the scene. Bursting with pace and invention. A World Cup darling. Now, there’s no room for him in Fabio Capello’s system. He watches his countrymen chase down World Cup qualification from afar.

And as if fate hasn’t laughed at him enough, Newcastle have been relegated.

A striker is supposed to peak around Michael Owen’s age, but diminished pace and a continuious stream of injuries make him seem far older and more faded than his 29 years should suggest.

As his contract with the fallen Magpies is up, rumors of a move inevitably float to the surface of the ever-murky transfer window punditry pool. Aston Villa. Everton. Roma. Reasonable names are batted about.

Either Villa, who flirted with Champions League qualification for much of the past season before sliding at the end, or Everton, who finished 5th and made a thrilling dash to the FA Cup final, might be a good fit for Michael’s ambitions. But Roma… we’ll come back to that.

It may be time for Michael Owen to consider that the aggresive, physical English Premier League is doing him few favors as far as warding off knocks, tears and strains goes. Does he want to spend the rest of his career drifting in and out of the active roster? A change in league might be the best move at this stage.

Look at his former teammate and fellow injury coinnoseur, Harry Kewell:

After a brilliant (and mostly fit) spell at Leeds United, Kewell moved to Anfield where he spent more time with the physios than with his teammates. Recurring injuries kept Kewell from living up to the uncharted potential he’d shown when he first came to England. Regaining his old match fitness seemed an impossible task for Kewell at, you guessed it, age 29.

At the end of the 2007/2008 season, Harry moved to Galatasary S.K. in the Turkish Süper Lig, where he now enjoys regular first team football and seems to have regained a consistent state of fitness.

If Roma’s interest is genuine, Serie A could be a good fit for Michael Owen. The league is less intense and physical than the EPL but still maintains high standards of quality. His creativity would be given room to thrive and his old prolificacy might blossom anew.

If he can stay out of the hospital gown for any length of time, Michael will score plenty more goals and perhaps even fight his way into Capello’s system. At 29, there’s no reason to blow the final whistle on his career. (Although, when it does finally sound, he should be given plenty of injury time.)

Perhaps Michael Owen is cursed. Since he walked out of Liverpool, events beyond his control have block him living up to his once boundless potential. One of the world’s most exciting young talents has struggled with form and place. One hopes it is not too late for Michael Owen to bounce back. But he’d have to find the right environment and take plenty of vitamins to pull it off at this point. Good luck, Michael.

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  1. j.foreigner

    June 11, 2009 at 7:17 am

    Good thinking on Owen “doing a Kewell”.
    Watching Harry playing for Australia this past week in his preferred position of left midfield reminded me of those heady days of Leeds United. (the only thing missing was big Mark Viduka up front, but I digress.)
    A fit, firing Owen would be a good thing for English football; here’s hoping he does stay outside his comfort zone and regain his old form.

  2. JustSoccerJerseys

    June 10, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    I don’t understand the part about wanting to leave the EPL because it’s too physical. Wouldn’t it be physical in International matches if he were to be called up?

  3. Sir Les

    June 10, 2009 at 8:46 am

    Wanted to get away fast before the scousers nicked his wheels off his new Bently I reckon.

  4. Gaz

    June 9, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    Why the hell did he leave Liverpool in the first place?

  5. Andy

    June 9, 2009 at 9:31 am

    EMO……. You gotta feel sorry for him……

    One of only a few of the England players who were actually on target to surpass Bobby Charlton’s all time goal scoring record. He could justify his wages and quite rightly joined the elite at Real Madrid.

    How horribly wrong it all went. He spent most of his time there on the subs bench when he wasn’t injured. Still had one of the best goals to game ratio and probably still does now for that fact.

    So, Fat Freddie Shepherd thought he was on to a winner when he bought him from Madrid. Who saw that comming?
    What a disaster that proved to be.
    Ever since he buggered his knee at the world cup, he lost his pace – like Samson going for a hair cut, he never really got over it he!

    Also, he was probably the poke that led to Newcastle’s down-hill crash – £17 million to buy, £140,000 a week and only 50 odd starts in 5 seasons. Ouch! I’ve just worked it out, that’s £53,400,000.

    Prospective buyers beware.

    Hang yer boots up Michael, don’t take take anybody else for a ride, just concentrate on your horses from now on.

  6. Ruben

    June 9, 2009 at 9:28 am

    “At 29, there’s no reason to blow the final whistle on his career. (Although, when it does finally sound, he should be given plenty of injury time.)”

    Nice touch.

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