Tag Michael Owen

Tag Michael Owen

Owen: hopeful failure to the last

Ed March 27, 2012 Tags: Opinion 26 comments

When Michael Owen joined Manchester United, summer 2009, the theory, with Owen approaching 30 and available on a free transfer, was that was former Liverpool striker would add short-term goals at a reasonable price. Three years on and Owen has proven no more value to United, even with no fee, than he did for Newcastle United, who paid more than £16 million for the errant former England star.

If ever there was a poster-child for the Glazernomic era here was it; a player whose failure at Newcastle United was so conspicuous most Geordies were delighted to see the back of the club’s record signing. Indeed, coming towards the end of a third campaign in Manchester, Owen has succeeded no more at Old Trafford than at St. James’ Park or, indeed, Santiago Bernabeu before that. In truth, it is nearly a decade since the former England star performed at the very height of his game.

At Old Trafford, Owen has scored 17 goals in 52 games for the club – just 18 starts – although it is a record hugely flattering to the striker: 11 goals have flowed in cup competitions, with seven in the Carling Cup, and three of Owen’s four Champions League goals in a dead rubber against Wolfsburg more than two years ago.

Most damning, for a player whom Sir Alex Ferguson still lauds, Owen has scored just once against in the ‘big four’ opponents of Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool – the stunning 96th minute strike in the derby two seasons ago.

On any level bar financial Owen has made little impact at United, appearing and scoring in predominantly second-tier competitions, and low-level opponents.

Yet, both player and manager appear blinded by the striker’s past, with Owen repeatedly proclaiming that he’d rather appear infrequently for a leading club, than each week elsewhere. Fair enough perhaps, except while Owen may be on the books of a “top club,” he has started just once against the aforementioned ‘big five’ opponents.

One suspects that games against Scunthorpe United, Southampton, Burnley, Aldershot, Barnsley, and latterly Oţelul Galaţi, were not what Owen had hoped for when he signed on the dotted line.

Meanwhile, Ferguson has continually praised the striker over the past three years, declaring Owen “still one of the best” as recently as last September. Yet, even after Owen spent another lengthy spell on the sidelines this winter, the 70-year-old United manager went on record once again this week, optimistically predicting a key role for the forward during the run-in.

“If you think about ever needing a player to score an important goal for you is there anyone better than Michael Owen?” mused Ferguson on Friday.

“He will be a really welcome addition to our squad, even if it were to be for the last few games of the season. He’s certainly making good progress. What happened was he came back into our training a couple of weeks ago and then after one of the sessions he did some physical work with the sports science team and overdid it. So it knocked him back a few days, but he should be joining us this week.”

Few United fans, bar those still doe-eyed about an albeit stunning derby-winner, will break out the champagne for horse-owner-cum-footballer Owen’s return to Fergie’s team. Not least while the infinitely more talented Dimitar Berbatov cannot force his way into Ferguson’s squad, let alone first team plans.

Yet, Owen has designs on further time at Old Trafford – a prospect that will bring no cheer to supporters hoping that Berbatov will be replaced in the United squad this summer by a player of equal or greater talent. No matter how inexpensive, surely Owen’s is a squad place better reserve for almost anybody else.

“In life, you have to make hard decisions I have made some good ones and some bad, but in general terms I am pretty proud of my career,” said the 32-year-old on Tuesday.

“I still think I have another two or three years but where that will be is a question that the manager would be better placed to answer. I am exactly the same situation I was last year. Regardless what happens, you will never hear me grumbling about the privilege of playing at a top club like Manchester United.

“I have had some cracking moments. I have scored in cup finals, got the winner against Manchester City, scored a hat-trick in the Champions League and won the league. I am not concerned about what is around the corner.”

One scenario has Ferguson using the veteran as a fourth-choice next season, with the Glazer family restricting Ferguson’s ability to enter the transfer market. Indeed, it is unlikely the Scot has more than £30 million to spend, with United’s long-mooted IPO now on hold until at least the autumn, and possibly moving venue away from the under-performing Singapore Stock Exchange.

Owen believes he is still fit to perform at the highest level, whether at Old Trafford or elsewhere. Just as the player once, quite laughably, denied he has ever been injury-prone, Owen is still seemingly blind to his own decline.

“I must admit, I don’t think I am going to be one of the players who is still playing when they are 37 or 38 like Ryan, but I certainly think I still have another two or three years left in me,” added the Chester-born striker.

“I listen to players in the dressing room; some players are struggling to get out of bed and complain about their knees or Achilles. I honestly can’t resonate with them. I never get any pains like that. I feel as though I can play, it’s just when I get injuries, they always seem to be bad ones. My body feels as though it can play and my mind wants to and the aim is to keep going for at least another couple of years.”

Owen’s continued presence in football will certainly be a loss to the horse-racing fraternity, which if the player’s Twitter account is any barometer, is his true passion.

In any case, fitness concerns and (lack of) goalscoring performances aside, Owen’s place at Old Trafford has rarely been a natural fit. Despite that derby-day strike, a former-Liverpool man, whose passionate response to scoring against United so enthralled the Kop faithful, was never likely to become an Old Trafford hero.

Few will shed a tear should Ferguson finally discard the striker this summer; many will drop if Owen keeps the coveted number seven shirt for a fourth campaign.

Happy Owen wasting his talent for the greater glory

Ed September 23, 2011 Tags: Opinion 5 comments

Michael Owen’s smart double against Leeds United on Tuesday night reignited the debate about the (former) England marksmen’s role, both at Manchester United and with the national team. The Telegraph’s Henry Winter led the charge, openly campaigning for the striker’s recall to Fabio Capello’s England squad. After all, Owen has not scored 40 international goals without knowing where the net lies. Indeed, the striker’s one-in-three ratio for United is impressive given the limited opportunities afforded the 31-year-old at Old Trafford.

Yet, Owen is little better than fifth choice at United in his third season with the club, with the inescapable feeling that the player’s talents remain unfulfilled in Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad. No longer quick enough to cause damage against Europe’s finest defenders, not cute enough to perform in a deeper role, Owen is rarely deployed by the Scot. When the former Liverpool striker gains an opportunity it is almost universally against the country’s lesser lights, for that is now the striker’s fate given the quality available to Ferguson.

If the pace has gone, none of Owen’s finishing skills have waned, amply demonstrated at Elland Road. The smart take and scuffed left-footed finish for his first; the emphatic right foot shot thumped home for the second. Against more limited opposition Owen is lethal, with a record while at Old Trafford that backs up the claim.

That the majority of Owen’s goals have come against second-class opposition is a reflection of the limited opportunities the player is afforded. This is reflected in the goalscorer’s record, which shows just one strike against top-class opposition – the 97th minute goal against Manchester City at Old Trafford in September 2009.

In all that there is a contradiction. Owen’s quality is no longer enough for a regular spot in United’s first team, even if Winter believes the 31-year-old is the answer to Capello’s problems. Yet, the goalscorer in Owen’s core must surely yearn for more.

“I’m not content if I’m not playing,” Owen said on Tuesday.

“I get criticised a lot with things like ‘you don’t play, you pick your money up’ and all the rest of it but I’m not proud of that fact. I want to play all the time. If the season was going to be like the first season I was here then I’d be delighted. That was fantastic and I felt involved. I was always either on the bench or playing. Obviously I want to be involved again but I appreciate that there’s some top players in the team and in the squad and it’s a challenge to get on the bench let alone into the first-team.”

Owen’s sentiment is underlined by the facts, with the player having started just six games in the Premier League during his time with United, and just one last season. And despite Ferguson’s words to the contrary at this campaign’s start, unless an injury crisis hits, Owen’s role will again be limited to cup competitions against predominantly minor opposition.

It’s a situation Owen appears to accept much against the popular conception of modern-day footballers. Indeed, the Chester-born strikers claims that he would rather play irregularly for United than start for an inferior club. The sentiment has always been both an enigma and a contradiction.

“I understand you cannot be given guarantees in football,” adds the striker.

“As last season drew to an end I was 50-50 about what the manager would say when he called me in. If it had gone the other way I wouldn’t have been upset. I am proud to have been involved with such a great club. But secretly when he said he wanted me to stay my fist was clenched under the table. We are all men about it. If I didn’t play at all during the season I would sit down with the manager and have another chat.

“I have been the number one choice and had people chomping at my heels. Now it is roles reversed but I can think of a lot worse places to be. When I train it is with the best players. When I play it is in front of fantastic fans in a great stadium and the quality is high. I hope I can be involved but I am not stupid there are a lot of top players here and if my chances are limited I will still have a smile on my face and still feel part of a fantastic club.”

In that there is a lot to admire in Owen. United supporters suspicious of the player’s Liverpool roots will never be so naïve as to believe the player is a United loyalist. It is, after all, just a job. But contrary to the moniker so often attached to the player – especially by those on Tyneside – Owen’s motive at Old Trafford is little more than glory, whether direct or by association.

But there is also an undeniable truth: at a level not much below United’s a fit Owen would surely score a hat-full of goals. Owen: a talent happy but wasted; never essential to United’s cause but pleased to be a bit part in the effort all the same.

Seven strikers into one doesn’t fit

Ed June 5, 2011 Tags: , , Opinion 37 comments

The surprise decision to re-sign Michael Owen means that Manchester United will have up to eight senior strikers on the books next season. With Wayne Rooney largely untouchable, Javier Hernández and Dimitar Berbatov will be joined by returning youngsters Federico Macheda, Danny Welbeck and Mame Biram Diouf fighting for a place in Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. Moreover, attempts to covert £8.3 million misfit Bébé into a striker leaves Ferguson with a plethora of attacking options but a group that needs rationalisation his players are not to be left without football next season.

Indeed, logic suggests only Rooney and Hernández, together with Owen, can guarantee their places in United’s squad next season, leaving Berbatov to ponder his future after being dropped for the Champions League final. Meanwhile, Ferguson’s promise to bring Welbeck back into the Old Trafford fold leaves the futures of Macheda and Diouf in doubt. The smart money is perhaps on neither being at Old Trafford before the start of next season.

In fact the decision to extend Owen’s contract to a third year at the club, despite the former Liverpool player starting just one Premier League match last season, will impact at least one Old Trafford youngster. It is a choice born of practical and financial concerns. Owen is on a heavily incentivised contract, and despite not using the 31-year-old frequently, Ferguson values the experience that the player offers. With Paul Scholes, Gary Neville, Owen Hargreaves and Edwin van der Sar departing the club, experience is something Ferguson has lost in quantity.

“Michael has proved to be a top footballer,” Ferguson said of the decision to re-sign Owen.

“It’s unfortunate Michael didn’t get more opportunities but the form of Chicharito put everyone in the shade and his partnership with Rooney proved invaluable. I am delighted Michael is staying for a further year and we will look to give him more opportunities in the new season.”

Owen’s chances depend heavily on how many forwards Ferguson chooses to keep in his squad next season, in particular Berbatov who appeared in 42 games, scoring 22 goals in the season just ended. And while Ferguson may be loathe to lose a player of the Bulgarian’s class and experience, this summer is the last realistic chance that United will be able to command a sizeable fee for the striker. Ferguson is reportedly willing to consider any offer in excess of £15 million for the former Tottenham Hotspur man.

Meanwhile, Welbeck will return to the United first team squad after a successful, if injury-prone, loan spell at Sunderland last season. The Longsight-born striker scored six goals in 28 appearances for the Wearsiders and earned an England cap against Ghana in March. Yet if Berbatov stays at Old Trafford Welbeck is likely to spend most of next season on the bench. Its an observation that could lead to the 20-year-old to leave on loan once again. Although unlikely, Ferguson could also cash in on the player who is desperately wanted by Steve Bruce.

The situation is even less clear for Macheda, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Sampdoria in Serie A, helping the Genoa club to a humiliating relegation. The 19-year-old scored just once in 16 games for the doomed side in a spell now roundly regarded as a disaster. More to the point, Macheda’s decision not to remain in England – Ferguson’s preference – may well point to an eventual exit for the striker. Few players defy the manager and remain to chance the Scot’s patience a second time.

Yet, the player’s agent Giovanni Bia has repeatedly made noises about the Italian youngster remaining with United next season, denying this week a move is afoot: “There is a 90 per cent chance Federico Macheda will remain with Manchester United,” Bia said. “As far as I am aware, Manchester United intend to keep Macheda. They don’t want to loan him out again.”

However, Diouf’s chances at United appear negligible after a poor loan spell at Blackburn Rovers. Although the £3.5 million striker scored a hat-trick against Norwich in the Carling Cup last autumn, just three goals in 27 Premier League appearances as Rovers successfully fought a relegation battle tell the story of a mediocre season. The Senegalese striker has played just five times for United, scoring once, but it is hard to envision a scenario in which he can force his way into Ferguson’s plans next season.

The same can be said of Bébé, although there is no chance United will recoup anything like the £8.3 million it cost in transfer and agents fees to bring the Portuguese to the club. Bébé’s power and pace are not in doubt but regular observers of United’s second string will have noted the limited progression the 20-year-old has made in understanding the game.

The plethora of options means that some players are likely to be disappointed next season; perhaps more so if they stay at Old Trafford only to watch from the stands. Not so Owen, who this week used Twitter to declare his delight at signing the one-year extension.

“I’d rather play less in a top team that more in poor side,” said the 31-year-old, much to Newcastle United’s apparent chagrin.

What’s the point of Michael Owen?

Ed 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.

Hernández impact spells end for Owen

Ed August 1, 2010 Tags: , Opinion 18 comments

Michael Owen will see out the final year of his contract with Manchester United during the coming season but injury and the immediate impact of new Mexican striker Javier Hernández is likely to reduce the former Liverpool forward’s role in the team. Owen, 30, appeared in 31 games for United last season, scoring nine goals.

Owen’s arrival on a free transfer last summer followed a disastrous injury-plagued four year spell at relegated Newcastle United. Indeed, the animosity the former England striker created among the Gallowgate faithful is a direct result of the player’s heavy wages, huge transfer fee and lack of serious impact.

Widely regarded as a surprise signing by Sir Alex Ferguson, the picture of Owen’s time at Newcastle hardly altered in his single season at Old Trafford. Injury, quite predictably, ended a campaign in which the 30-year-old rarely started. There was perhaps little surprise in that though. After all, expectations at Old Trafford were hardly high to start with.

Now though the 89 cap international faces a challenge making the United squad, let alone the first team with seven strikers now on the club’s books. It is possible that Owen, still a few weeks short of full fitness, will have slipped to fifth in the pecking order by the time the striker returns to fitness, behind Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov, Hernández and even Federico Macheda.

The greatest challenge to Owen’s role in the team undoubtedly comes from new boy Chicharito, who on first appearances is a fitter, younger, faster and more flexible forward. Hernández, 21, scored for United against the MLS All Stars and then against his own team for CD Chivas Guadalajara on Friday night.

Although supporters’ expectations of the Mexican should be kept in check – the player is moving team, country and continent to an alien style of football – Hernández’ offers everything that Owen brings to the club, save for experience.

It’s a quality Owen spoke about this week, with the former Real Madrid player entering the final year of his contract with the club, although each party has an option for a third year at Old Trafford.

“I’d love this to be my last club,” said Owen, who is unlikely to return until September.

“You look at Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville and you like to think you have five more years in the game. I’m 30, and I don’t want to wish my career away. In an ideal world I’d like to play out my years here.

“I had great moments last season – a hat-trick in the Champions League and a goal in the Carling Cup Final, but the derby goal was fantastic. It was one of the biggest, most pure adrenaline rushes of my career. It’s alongside that Germany hat-trick, scoring twice in the FA Cup Final, and that goal in St Etienne.”

Owen needs to get fit and stay fit to challenge for a place in the United side of course. After all the player started only 10 games last season, and the Champions League hat-trick aside the player hit the net on just six other occasions.

The issue of fitness is perennially a source of frustration for the player, who appears in total denial about the problems that have dogged a career.

“I was fit for 43 games,” claimed the forward, who appeared in just 71 Premier League games over four years on Tyneside.

“The pity is I missed the ones at the end when we were playing for things. The amount of injuries I have had is exaggerated. It can be annoying, but you learn to live with it.”

In the meantime Hernández may well become another annoyance by supplanting Owen in the United squad.

Valencia has op, may miss pre-season

Ed May 13, 2010 Tags: , Shorts 1 comment

Antonio Valencia, fresh from an outstanding first season at Manchester United, has endured the surgeon’s knife in a bid to cure an ankle problem. The Ecuadorian, who missed the final two games of the season, returned to his homeland to start a two month long rehabilitation programme before returning to Old Trafford in June.

With Ecuador just failing to reach the FIFA World Cup in South Africa this summer, Valencia underwent the surgery on his right ankle. The 23-year-old will wear a cast for three weeks and will only join United’s summer tour to North America and Mexico if the surgery heals to schedule.

Valencia made 49 appearances for United this season, scoring seven goals and contributing a further seven assists.

Meanwhile Michael Owen, who tore his left hamstring during the Carling Cup final at Wembley in February, is set to join up with United’s squad in the US on 12 July for pre-season training.

“The aim is to be doing everything with the lads on the first day of pre-season training,” said Owen, who remains in complete denial about his awful injury record.

“It was a shame to get the injury at Wembley. I thought it was a minor thing at first but it was obviously worse than that.

“But overall I was delighted with my first season at United. I was fit for 43 of the first 44 games.”

The former Liverpool striker scored nine times last season.

Picasso, Rothko, Hurst and Rooney

Ed April 9, 2010 Tags: , , , Just for fun No comments

When football is oft described as art those commentators probably didn’t mean this. Premier League World, the magazine TV show, has organised a one-off book, to be auctioned for charity, of drawings by footballers themselves. Unbelievably these drawings aren’t from when the players were in nursery!

Wayne Rooney. Credit: Premier League World / PA Wire

Ryan Giggs. Credit: Premier League World / PA Wire.

Rio Ferdinand. Credit: Premier League World / PA Wire.

Rio Ferdinand. Credit: Premier League World / PA Wire.

Michael Owen. Credit: Premier League World / PA Wire.

Michael Owen. Credit: Premier League World / PA Wire.

Fergie’s Owen gamble has now failed

Ed March 31, 2010 Tags: , , Opinion 17 comments

When Sir Alex Ferguson signed Michael Owen on a free transfer in the summer many fans saw the signing as a low-cost gamble on an experienced goalscorer. Nine goals in 31 appearances later and Owen’s injury-prone record came home to roost. But with Wayne Rooney is such stunning form it mattered little. Until now.

Owen’s record with Newcastle United averages 18 games and seven goals per season. In short United squeezed out of the former Liverpool and Real Madrid striker exactly what Owen’s history suggested. Value for money in an expensive market but absolutely no more than that.

Increasingly Ferguson has deployed Rooney as the lone front-man in a 4-3-3 formation designed to pack central midfield and exploit the Scouser’s dynamism and goalscoring form. It worked; the former Evertonian has scored 34 goals in all competitions this season, a personal record that will earn the striker both the Professional Footballers Association (PFA) and Football Writers’ Association (FWA) Player of the Year accolades.

But Rooney’s form is only part of the picture in a demanding season where squad rotation has rarely applied to the 24-year-old forward. Had injury not struck, Rooney’s season would surely have consisted of more games than any other in his career to date.

The result is that United’s other senior strikers Dimitar Berbatov, together with Owen, have started just 33 games between them this season. Although both players can boast a one goal in two games ratio when starting, United’s squad quite obviously lacks a senior goalscorer of international class without Rooney.

Taking David Gill’s word on finances at face value – a stretch of course – Ferguson could have spent large on another striker last summer, even if Karim Benzema preferred Real Madrid to Old Trafford. But should he?

Ferguson’s decision to withdraw from the transfer market has not been helped by the long absence of Federico Macheda, whose off-field ‘attitude problems’ and on field hamstring injuries have restricted the Italian under-21 international to just a couple of substitute appearances this season.

There is also disappointment with the progress of Danny Welbeck, whom Ferguson earmarked as a potential for Fabio Capello’s England squad at the season’s start. The local-boy was given little opportunity to impress before being shipped out to Championship side Preston North End in January.

Moreover, the Scot has now settled on a formation that rarely requires the use of two strikers in the biggest games. No longer, it seems, does Ferguson want four front line strikers as in the past.

But why then does the word-on-the-street say Ferguson has earmarked the largest chunk of his summer budget – United has a £75 million overdraft facility, if no real cash – to bringing in another striker? Perhaps the Scot now realises United is horribly exposed.

Rooney’s injury – on very early prognosis – will keep the striker out for two to four weeks. In the best case scenario he will miss United’s games with Chelsea and Bayern Munich at Old Trafford, and the visit to Blackburn. Any longer and Rooney will miss a potential Champions League semi-final and Premier League matches against Manchester City, Spurs and Sunderland.

That’s the best case in a potentially nightmare scenario. But the transfer market is likely to be no less heated this summer than last. There’s still no value, with Chelsea and Manchester City both in search of a top class forward. Prices will once again reach stratospheric proportions.

Ferguson will have to spend very big to bring top quality to the side or United will next season, like this, will be worryingly reliant on Rooney’s brilliance.

Owen faces op and misses season

Ed March 5, 2010 Tags: Shorts No comments

Michael Owen will miss the rest of Manchester United’s season after learning that he requires an operation on his injured hamstring. The op, which will take place on Monday, means that Owen will play no further part in United’s Premier or Champions League campaigns. The striker has scored nine times in 31 games for United.

Owen, 30, injured his left hamstring chasing a through ball during the Carling Cup final last Sunday. The former-Liverpool forward equalised for United before departing in the 40th minute, with substitute Wayne Rooney scored the winning goal.

“It’s a bad blow – he’s out for the season,” said Sir Alex Ferguson at a Friday morning press conference.

“Unfortunately it’s more serious than we thought. He will be operated on on Monday morning.

“It’s a terrible blow for the lad and is disappointing news for us too. He has never missed a training session all season. I think the heavy pitch at Wembley on Sunday made some contribution to it but really it is just bad luck.”

Owen joined the club on a free transfer following four injury hit seasons with Newcastle United, although this is his first serious injury for the Reds. The player is on an appearance and bonus related two-year contract with the club and Sir Alex Ferguson recently denied that Untied is willing to sell the player.

The player will also miss out on FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa, although he has not featured for Fabio Capello’s side in more than a year.

The striker scored a stunning 96th minute winner in the Manchester derby last September but has failed to command a regular starting place in the team despite a December hat-trick against Wolfsburg.

Owen going nowhere – Fergie

Ed February 28, 2010 Tags: Shorts No comments

Sir Alex Ferguson has dismissed newspaper speculation that Michael Owen will head a summer clearout at Manchester United. The former-Liverpool striker, who scored against West Ham United at Old Trafford last Tuesday, has started just 10 times for United this season despite a strong fitness record, scoring eight goals for the club.

“He has done well here, he has been a success,” said Ferguson yesterday.

“He’s a great professional, he’s never missed a training session, his performances in training have been very good, and I think he has improved as a footballer in his time here.

“His general knowledge of the game is better, so is his linking play, and for the first time in his career he is getting used to coming on as a sub. I think he’s enjoying being a part of it here and he’ll definitely be here next season because I have absolutely no intention of letting him go.

“The only problem Owen has got at the moment is Wayne Rooney. We’re getting incredible performances from Rooney at the moment, and Michael has come here at a time when another striker, and sometimes the only one we use, is on the rise.”

Owen, who may start the Carling Cup final Sunday afternoon, has a two year contract at Old Trafford that rewards the England international goalscorer based on performances. Owen joined United on a free transfer last summer after an injury-hit four years with Newcastle United.