The fact few Newcastle United fans will be sorry to see the back of him speaks volumes for how his time at St James’ Park has come to be perceived, yet still Michael Owen has managed to emerge from the whole stinking mess smelling of roses. Ummm… I feel stupid to say this.
Owen completed a free transfer move to Manchester United Friday evening after passing his medicals in one of the most remarkable pieces of transfer business since… let me think, Newcastle signed him from Real Madrid for £16.5m four years ago.
It has been written all over the British papers on various occasions this summer how Man United are only going to sign players under the age of 26, yet here they are, handing a two-year contract to a 29-year-old with probably the highest profile injury reputation in the English game!
Like everyone else, I didn’t see this coming at all, I thought the former Liverpool striker would end up at Everton, a club he supported as a kid or in one those other European leagues, probably Greece but on reflection it isn’t that surprising, is it?
He cost Manchester nothing other than wages, and I’m sure his deal will have plenty of clauses in which will amount to a modest basic wage - by his standards - and more attached to appearances and goals.
Given Owen’s tendency to pick up knocks and strains since his return to England from Spain four years ago, the transfer is looks a risk by Manchester United, but it is a risk they can afford for a player who, despite everything, still has a goals-per-game record of roughly one every other game.
Whereas most top flight clubs would use Owen as their main striker, Manchester United can afford to use him as a squad player like they did with Henrik Larsson.
The Swede arrived on short deal from Barcelona but went on to be a big success. United have plenty of options in attack and if Owen is injured, there is more than adequate cover for him in the squad.
It is a calculated gamble by Sir Alex Ferguson, but one he knows he can make because of the strength in depth he has at Old Trafford.
As for the player himself, he will be thrilled to, say unprecedented levels would sound extravagant, but that’s the level I suspect particularly as he intended to join Mr.
Fergie’s side after his first season at St James’s Park only for his knee to give way at the World Cup in Germany.
He has been mocked and criticised more than ever in the last 12 months of his Newcastle career, and when his management team produced that infamous 32-page brochure to advertise him to prospective buyers, there did seem to be something rather desperate in their act.
Could it have contributed to his latest move, which to me stands out there as his biggest, given the circumstances? Probably bigger than his transfer from Liverpool to Real Madrid in 2003 when he was enjoying his game and in good physical and mental condition!
When a four-year contract was cut short to just 12 months! Funny world of football.
But, as has been so often the case in his career, it looks as though the ex-Real Madrid star will have the last laugh and probably regain his place on the England team.
At 29, in theory, there is plenty of football left in his battered legs and the fact he has joined the reigning Premier League champions, who will be among the favourites to win the Champions League again, Owen has the chance to win one or two more major silverware before he draws the curtain to his playing career.
Him joining a side that creates scoring opportunities for strikers for feed on, and being Michael Owen, England’s most prolific goal scorer of the living lot, he’s surely going to score them (but only if he keeps himself fit) unlike at Newcastle were, for his four years, had little support from the midfield.
Good luck boy.