On Wednesday it looked like there was a chance that Michael Owen could be playing for Everton or Aston Villa, but more likely Stoke or Hull. The Newcastle player had just become a free transfer target having let his contract run down and was looking at his limited options. Four years of injury problems at Newcastle had made the once prolific Liverpool, Real Madrid and England striker a player who’s career seemed to winding down with the only real hopes of a mid table or relegation threatened team willing to take a chance on him. And then Sir Alex called.
48 hours later Owen was signing for the Champions, he was a Manchester United player. With Ronaldo and Tevez gone United were looking to reinforce their attacking lines with a goal scorer. The 80 million pounds brought in from the Ronaldo sale meant United have money to burn most of the games big name strikers were mentioned. United seemed on the verge of signing Karim Benzema before it was announced that he too would be heading to Madrid. David Villa seems set on staying in Spain, and the likes of Huntelaar, Fabiano, Kun Aguero and Ibrahimovic have all been linked at one time or other. There is still two months of the transfer window left and United may still bring in a big name expensive signing, but on Friday evening Michael Owen became a free transfer signing for Manchester United.
Many see this as a risk by Sir Alex, with none of the other top teams seeing Owen as a viable option. Liverpool fans have come out violently aggressive and bitter about their once goal scoring legend signing for United. Opinions are split on the signing but one thing is certain, Michael Owen on a free is a risk worth taking, and a great bit of business by United.
If Owens fitness continues to be a problem the consolation for United will be that he was free. But the forward believes his injury problems are behind him and was put through the most stringent medical in the clubs history before signing for far less then he was on at Newcastle. The gamble is one worth taking. The desire is still there from Owen and is clearly evident in his taking a huge pack cut to play for a team that gives him his best chance at honours and at getting back into the England fold. In a world cup year Owen will be best placed to show Capello that he is not finished, and in playing with Rooney, will give the England selectors something to think about. He has a lot to prove, not to the Liverpool fans vilifying him, but to himself and Capello, and has faith to repay in Sir Alex.
United have not played with an out and out goal scorer since Ruud van Nistelrooy left for Real, and Owen will give them that option. Whether coming off the bench or starting, Owen will bring something new to the United attack and the increased options and threat can only be a good thing. A fit Michael Owen, with the desire and burn to restore his name and reputation could be the stroke of genius United need to follow the departure of Ronaldo. Time will tell, but I think this could be a great signing by Manchester United – for them and for Michael Owen.