The August deadline day of this summer transfer window pulled a surprise when veteran striker Michael Owen was signed by Premiership side Stoke City on a one-year permanent contract.
The 32-year old, who has been a professional footballer for 16 years, looks too weak physically to do the job at Stoke City, let alone the English Premiership. Given his massive experience and knowledge at the top level of professional football, the Englishman could be more valuable as a coach than a player now.
Owen has played for top clubs in the world including of Real Madrid, Liverpool, Manchester United and Newcastle United. He was an intelligent striker during his prime time with both England and Liverpool.
He has played a longside great men like former French soccer legend Zinedine Zidane, now the sporting director of Real Madrid, former Barcelona star and Portuguese international, now soccer analyst Luis Figo and Roberto Carlos, who has been a coach player at Anzhi in Russia.
Owen is a man expected to be equipped with a lot of knowledge and information in the football game. His fame could fade unless he transforms his knowledge from has professional football career to train youngsters for his nation or elsewhere in the world.
The Englishman’s physical status now fits a coach and not a top professional footballer. In coaching you bring down a lot of mind in the game than physical intervention.
In the past five years, the former England striker has struggled to keep his physical fitness right. Owen was at United for three seasons and suffered multiple injuries that have seen him ousted from the old Trafford from the backdoor.
Though he was so unfortunate to sustain a hamstring during his early days at Old Trafford, the former English international struggled with his fitness. At first, he was used sparingly by Sir Alex Ferguson as a utility substitute and scored few goals.
In his second term at old Trafford, Owen performed fairly well and then his form declined progressively until he could not even make the bench, and now he joins Stoke City, a team known for high physical demand from players.
One of the great assets that keeps Stoke City in the Barclays Premier League all this time is their massive physical and direct approach to the game.
So many big teams have struggled against them home and away given their high level of physical preparedness. Manchester City is the latest big team to taste Stoke City’s physical strength this season. They drew 1-all at the Britannia stadium last weekend.
The English champions are one of the top teams in Europe with great physical players from the likes of Carlos Tevez, Kuan Aguerro, Yaya Toure, Vicent Kompany, Micah Richards, and Pablo Zabaleta but they struggled against Stoke.
When you look at Tony Pulis’ strikers, they are much stronger than Owen in so many aspects. Englishman Peter Crouch and John Walters are first choice strikers. Crouch’s aerial strength makes him fit seamlessly in the team’s setup. He has scored a handful of goals from long throw-ins and certainly Stoke City benefits from this strategy.
Other strikers like Walters, Jermaine Jones and Cameroon Jerome have pace and strength that make them fit in Pulis’ plans and strategy to compete in the Premiership League.
Owen is currently not comparable to any of the above mentioned strikers in terms of physical strength and it strongly stunts his chances of getting first team football regularly.
However, Owen could become more valuable to the English football if he can replicate his professional playing history into coaching.