What’s the point of Michael Owen?

September 24, 2010 Tags: Opinion 36 comments

It’s a question asked not in some evanescent sense but in search of something far more tangible, even though the player’s Liverpool past means Manchester United supporters will take the question either way. But for now it is enough to ponder striker’s worth to Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad, with Aston Villa potentially interested in taking Owen.

After all, of Owen’s 11 goals in a United shirt to date, just two have any significant meaning; his 96th minute strike against Manchester City at Old Trafford and the Carling Cup final goal that brought Ferguson’s side back into the tie. The rest have come in the earlier rounds of the Carling Cup, against relegation-threatened Premier League outfits and, of course, the dead-rubber hat-trick against Wolfsburg in the Champions League.

Indeed, analysis of Owen’s goals – City and Villa games aside – show that only his goal against CSKA Moscow at Old Trafford made a difference to the result.

It’s hardly more than anyone can have expected, with time and injury having taken a toll of the player’s cutting edge that once brought Owen around 40 goals in 80 international appearances. In retrospect Owen’s peak years came between 18 and 23 years old. Today, the player is a shadow of his former self – a squad player on United’s books as much for the economic benefits of cheap labour, as for his output.

With Javier Hernández and Federico Macheda breathing down Owen’s neck, the question is, does Ferguson even need the player in his squad?

This week Owen scored twice against Scunthorpe United in the Carling Cup. Plus ça change. The former Liverpool player has found his level, it seems.

“It’s been a strange start to the season. We’ve played weekend-weekend-weekend and then into a double-header international break so the manager’s kept a similar team through those three games,” said Owen, sounding as if he’s trying to convince himself of his own worth.

“There’s been a lot of us that haven’t played in the first month of the season but now the Champions League’s started, the League Cup’s started and there’s Premier League games all the time so I’d like to think there’s going to be plenty of games coming thick and fast.

“It’s a difficult juggling act for the manager because he’s got young kids that he wants to bring through, then there’s players that have been injured coming back and players that need the games.

“It’s par for the course at Manchester United. But it’s a bit false at the minute because there have been so few games.”

Yet Owen is unlikely to feature any more than last season, when the 31-year-old started just 11 games. Injury permitting Owen will at least be available for the run-in. But with the player rarely featuring in United’s most crucial games there seems no realistic scenario – an injury crisis aside – in which Owen can force his way into the team.

If history has any baring, Owen is the most likely to be injured first. Moreover, the former England international’s very presence in the squad could be harmful to both Hernández and Macheda, each of whom needs games to develop. The same was also true of Macheda and Wellbeck last year.

While it is fair for Chicharito to take his time settling in England, Macheda faces the very real prospect of a third season playing reserve team football. It’s not a good scenario for either United nor the player, even if Ferguson described the Italian teenager as “fantastic” this week.

“Macheda is only 19 and he is doing magnificently,” Ferguson told Gazzetta dello Sport today.

“What a future for the Italian national team when they are both (Macheda and Balotelli) ready together. I am very satisfied with Chicco. He is simply fantastic.”

Fantastic Macheda may become, but if he is not to go the way of Giuseppe Rossi before him, time on the pitch in the United side is the only answer. Owen is a major roadblock to that process. Macheda cannot even be guaranteed a Carling Cup spot in his favourite position, having played on the left-wing against Scunthorpe.

Yet, there seems little likelihood that Ferguson will choose to cut his options this season, with the fee on offer from Villa not substantial. It means another season largely on the sidelines for Owen; another campaign even further away from the first team for Macheda, who may begin to wonder whether it’ll ever happen for him at Old Trafford.


simon - September 24, 2010 Reply

I totally agree with this. Owen would be 5th choice striker for me. Would much rather Macheda got many more minutes than give Owen any game time. Sentimentality for the City goal aside, he does nothing of note. Just one correction to your article though…Macheda didn’t really play on the wing against Scunny. Hernandez did. Macheda was mostly up top.

Ed - September 24, 2010 Reply

Simon – corrections only good if they’re, well, correct. Macheda spent the whole first half covering Rafael at left-back, moving more central as Owen moved wide in the second. Macheda wide left, Hernandez wide right in first half.

I watched the game too you know!

Stephen Morris - September 24, 2010 Reply

Yeah, I agree, Macheda played on the wing. The tale was told when the big game came. 2-2 with Liverpool and Owen is on the bench and SAF brings on Macheda.

uncleknobheadforfucksake - September 24, 2010 Reply

its a disgrace he lasted a second fucking year, fucking horse rimming welsh cunt, hes fucking useless, even when he scores it dont matter cause it was michael fucking owen that scored it, everyone knows the real score against city was 3.5-3, cunt, LKHFaffing ffs theres no value one love knobhead

mongoletsi - September 26, 2010 Reply

1. He’s not Welsh dickhead.
2. Fwchio bant x

Benni Robinson - September 24, 2010 Reply

You all obviously don’t understand football! and what a striker is meant to do in a game! I was very impressed with Owens over all game! He came back deep to pick the ball up which opens up spaces at the back! Also he’s first touch and passing was perfect unlike Macheda, Hernandez, Gibson, Anderson..all these so called stars of the future gave the ball away all over the park. A part from that he scored 2 goals! What else you want from him!! AND HE WAS FREE!!! so as long as he keeps getting minutes he’s going to score at least 10 goals! the more he plays the more he will score!! I’d start him up front with Berbatov on Saturday instead of Rooney!!


Ed - September 24, 2010 Reply

“I’d start him up front with Berbatov on Saturday instead of Rooney!!” – and you accuse me of not understanding football. FFS.

mongoletsi - September 26, 2010 Reply

Word. Owen over Rooney? Never.

Triggs - September 24, 2010 Reply

Most people agree with this. There’s no need to skew his stats and dismiss a hat trick away to the German champions. It’s not a dead rubber when the opposition are trying to win the game to go through.

a.parker - September 24, 2010 Reply

Owen best used as a sub these day, need a goal bring him on, predatory insticts will do the rest…honestly thou, it pretty much a toss up these days, which lad is better suited to the occasion, which one will get you that all important goal, im quite happy with all 5 strikers at hand…thou be nice to think that will keane and john cofie might get thrown in sometime during the campaigne, we wait and see.

Bill - September 24, 2010 Reply

Here is my assessment of it, taking into account facts. I’m sure there will be others thrown back but still consider the following:

1. Owen has scored goals at at PL/CL/1st team level for a prolonged period of time.

2. Javier Hernandez, Danny Welbeck, Mame Diouf & Federico Macheda have not.

3. SAF is currently selecting the experienced players and not youngsters.

4. A striking group without Owen of age 29, 24, 19, 19, 22, 22 is a young group. Owen brings experience to the group & could help mentor the likes of Hernandez (a la Laurent Blanc)

5. He averages 120 minutes per goal in a Red shirt. Rooney 172, Van Nistelrooy 125, Berbatov 196.

Conclusion: Unless Villa have a bid accepted, Owen to sign reduced one year contract at the end of the season.

Ed - September 25, 2010 Reply

Bill – unfortunately Owen has an option on a third year. I get your point about the young group but its also a very large group too. In any case I think the 120 mins per goal stat would be relevant if only he scored goals in important games. Generally, he doesn’t and that’s my problem.

Alfonso Bedoya - September 24, 2010 Reply

To tell the truth, I don’t give a shit, as long as we’re winning.

It’s getting harder and harder to get excited about the game, when so much of it is now bought and paid for, instead of earned… so if Owen gets the nod… fine, as long as he scores… if he’s not scoring, then he has no use… and there’s no reason for him to be picked ahead of a younger option.

Zombie Cucumber - September 24, 2010 Reply

I’ve always liked Owen, even when he was with Liverpool – plays hard, humble, keeps his mouth shut, etc. Our kind of player. And it’s a shame about the injuries.

But, I hate to see Cleverly loaned out all season, while Owen mainly rides the bench.

Onside - September 25, 2010 Reply

Sorry to say this but this article seems to be the work of a spoiled brat.

Do you really want to take back Owen’s 11 goals to date simply because he used to play for Liverpool?

And don’t give me that ‘blocking the youth’s way’ line. Hernandez has does nothing but bundle a goal off his beak in the Shield, whereas Macheda did likewise in a 1-2 defeat last season. If you want to bring Macheda’s injury time winner against Villa onto the table, then keep in mind that Owen did likewise against City.

You’d have more peace in your mind if you simply accepted that Owen is indeed a member of Manchester United’s squad, and a prolific one at that.

Ed - September 25, 2010 Reply

Onside – are you a windup merchant or something? I mean talk about denial of facts! Two goals, two meaningful goals and that’s it. The rest of Owen’s “prolific” output came against the Premier League dross or lower division clubs. But hey, let’s not let the facts get in the way of you throwing insults around.

Liam - September 25, 2010 Reply

To be fair he doesnt really play any “important games” in general except maybe a few minutes towards the end. And as for only scoring against relegation dross, well we really could have used someone scoring against the dross that was Burnley last season and perhaps we would have been champions again. All goals are meaningful in the context of breaking an oppositions spirit. No he is not the Michael Owen of old but seriously, how many of us on here expected him to be when he signed anyway?

Bill - September 25, 2010 Reply

At the end of the day I think Michael Owen will be in a red shirt for a few more seasons to come, unless a decent bid is put in for him.

Personally I think he is a good experienced squad player, and I’m pretty sure that is SAF’s view as well. There’s a possibility that Welbeck returns from his loan at the end of the season, Macheda is loaned out for 2011-12, Diouf is sold to Blackburn & Owen signs on for another year. All said and done that isn’t such a bad option.

Paul - September 25, 2010 Reply

To the idiots who don’t like Owen, don’t you realise that everytime he scores its a dagger through the heart of the scousers, they are all devastated that he plays for united so how can that be a bad thing.

Also how is having a world class finisher in our ranks detrimental to the cause or bad for the development of our younger strikers, who better to learn from!!!

Ed - September 25, 2010 Reply

Paul – that’s why Liverpool fans have booed him on every return to Anfield since he left, including when he played for Newcastle. Bold statements require at least basic research. They hate him.

Tom - September 25, 2010 Reply

I am of the opinion that we should let him move to Villa. The more you look at all the variables, the more this protracted move looks to make sense for all parties. I would love to see Owen do well at United as much as anyone. The reality is though that he has done fine for us and we would be better off focusing on progressing our young strikers like Hernandez and Macheda.

RobDiablo - September 25, 2010 Reply

Ed said:
Paul – that’s why Liverpool fans have booed him on every return to Anfield since he left, including when he played for Newcastle. Bold statements require at least basic research. They hate him.

Ed, why are you wasting time replying to posts; don’t you have an article to be used as the matchday thread for tomorrow’s clash with Bolton to prepare?

Ed - September 25, 2010 Reply

RobDiablo – good point, some fuckwits just piss me off with their incredible stupidity I feel the need to correct them lest other idiots believe them. I’m posting a preview now. Been in the library all day.

Bill - September 25, 2010 Reply

A Newcastle fan I know didn’t seem to either. To be honest he was underselling himself going there. They are a big club in terms of following but the general running of the place is farcical.

By all accounts Owen was keen enough to go back to Liverpool, but Benitez didn’t want him! No professional footballer in the right mind would turn United down so its that simple. Hating him for it just shows how deep the rivalry between United & Liverpool goes.

Bill - September 25, 2010 Reply

Please check my first thread on the forum!


Comments welcome 😉

mongoletsi - September 26, 2010 Reply

Owen on for Fletcher. Arse.

mongoletsi - September 26, 2010 Reply


Yes, Owen never scores important goals.

Comment, Ed?

Liam - September 26, 2010 Reply

he he he!!

Triggs - September 26, 2010 Reply

na that game was a dead rubber

sidney - September 26, 2010 Reply

What’s the point in John O’Shea And Johnny Evans

Robbo - September 26, 2010 Reply

the point appears to be pulling Uniteds trailing fucking bollocks out of the fire.

Bill - September 26, 2010 Reply

Owen scores goals, its a simple as that. That’s why he is worth his place on the “USA alert” roster!

Ed - September 26, 2010 Reply

Ha bloody ha – well if I never offered an opinion this site would be the same cut and past quotes as all the others and that would be boring wouldn’t it.

I stick by my opinion on Owen though. Nice header today but his overall contribution in more than a year at the club is minimal.

Bill - September 26, 2010 Reply

Yep maybe Owen reads the site & wanted to make a point 🙂

Either way I am standing by my opinion that he is well worth a place in the squad.

It could get worse if Rooney’s ankle doesn’t sort itself & Owen gets extra game time as a result!

danniitronix - September 28, 2010 Reply

yep, fuck off. trying knowing something about football before spouting off the same old tiresome shit about what is the point of Owen.

Add your comment