Date: 30th May 2011 at 9:57am
Written by:

The back of Michael Owen...something we will be seeing this summer.

That’s the headline that I’m expecting to read over the coming few days or weeks, as any title celebrations are done and dusted, and plans get going for 2011/.

I have many reasons why I don’t think Michael Owen should be at the club, and many reasons why I don’t want him at the club either.  I don’t value the player, and I don’t value the person.  I don’t value what contribution he has made, or maybe that should read lack of.

A couple of summer’s ago I didn’t want him to sign.  I’d have loved him to win me over, as Alan Smith did when we bought him at a time where I thought we should have been going after that Real Madrid wanted to sign…not Birmingham.  But when we hijacked Hull ’s bid for the former England international, I shook my head at the ‘gamble’ we were making, as Sir Alex put it.

Owen never did win me over, and even if he’d had his PR people send his brochure over to my house to remind me about what he has been, I still wouldn’t have wanted anything other than for us to have signed someone else.

Owen the player isn’t the sort who fits in to our system.  For Owen to be a for a club, the club has to play to his strengths.  He’s not a ball winner, he’s not creative, he’s not the kind of guy who can lead a line like a man beast, and he’s not the sort to come on to the pitch with 20 minutes to go in a hard ruck of a game against Bolton, take it by the scruff of the neck and be a match winner.

For me, Owen has one thing, and that is if you can put the ball on a plate for him, in a goal scoring position…he’ll more often than not put it away.  But by doing that, the team game is sacrificed.  You might win the odd cup like Liverpool did when he was there, but it’s not suitable for the long haul.  It’s not suitable for the big games.  How successful have England been trying to feed the ball to Owen when he’s eight yards out without a world class defender breathing down his neck?

The United way isn’t letting 9 outfield players do the work so that we can engineer a chance for a tap in merchant.  We play with ten men who do their all, fight, move, and goals are scored from everywhere.  Owen has never been a United player, and despite Fergie labelling it a gamble at the time of his signing, I think it had failure written all over it from the start.

To get the best out of Owen, we have to lower our standard of game play, and by doing that we’ll lose our way.  With that, I think that he is a risk to our ambitions, and someone who should be replaced immediately….he’s been here for two years too long, has been hampered with his usual injuries (although ask him if he’s injury prone and he’ll say no he’s not, he’s just unlucky with injuries?)

“Have you forgotten who scored the winner in the derby last season?” I am often asked. “Nope” I reply. “Thanks to a world class, pinpoint ball from Ryan , who put the ball on a plate for Michael Owen, he had the time and space he needed to put the ball in the net”.  Spin that round and imagine it was Owen on the edge of the box in a cut throat situation like that and you can bet your bottom dollar he’d have been struggling to make a decision as to what to do.

We play in a 25 man squad era now, and I think Owen takes up a valuable spot in there.  Without mentioning being an unworthy holder of the number seven shirt, when Owen was fit in the 2009/2010 season, he took valuable game time away from players like Danny Welbeck and Federico Macheda.  These players may have benefitted from extra game time, but they only managed the odd 10  minutes here and there.  Then, at the end of the season when Rooney and Owen were injured, they didn’t have the game time behind them to be able to do a step up and do a capable job in their place, so were rarely named up front.  Had Macheda have had those minutes that Owen was given, it may have been the difference between a goal at Blackburn – in a game where Antonio Valencia has our chance to get the three points, but fluffed his point blank effort.

Owen the ‘man’

You know when you wake up, look out of your window and it’s a gloomy, miserable, soaking wet wintery morning?  In the road, there are puddles, and dim car lights in miserable queues of traffic lighting up the rain?  And there’s a wet, soggy, flaccid dark cardboard box.  That wet, soggy, flaccid dark brown cardboard box is Michael Owen’s personality.

A dreadful interviewee, who is the worst possible advert for ‘what it’s like to play for ’ since Jordi Cruyff.  And he was difficult.  Justin pointed not so long ago that his luke warm reply to what it was like to score the winner in a Manchester derby wasn’t the kind of thing you’d expect to hear from anyone in the red shirt.  (It’s my tongue in cheek belief that he too credit’s Giggs for the winner, but hey ho…!)

The guy is lucky to have been at United, and that should come across every time he speaks.  It doesn’t.  The boy who had to make a marketing catalogue to spin out what he’s done in the past in order to get a move away from St James’ Park would be plying his trade at Hull City if it weren’t for United.  No-one else seemed remotely interested in him, and we should have been in the “No Michael Owen at my club” club.

We should have owned that club.

Injuries

This is where I do feel sorry for Owen.  Injuries haven’t helped Owen to prove that he is worthy of a spot at United, and even though we knew he was injury prone when we signed him, I can’t think that’s his fault.  Unless he doesn’t apply and condition himself properly – something I can’t see being the case at all.  But he is out for large chunks of the season, still picking up a wage (even if it is a low basic where he earns more when he appears in the team).  I think his wage would be better spent elsewhere, or towards a new signing – whoever Ferguson chooses to bring in this coming summer.

Short memories

So, those are my views on Owen the player, and the man – but there is one more reason why this man, in my eyes, will never be a red.  I can’t think of a more disgusting challenge on a United player when I’ve been in attendance….

Think back to Owen’s first season as a professional and he’s about 18 years .  He comes to Old Trafford for the most important fixture of the world footballing calendar and he’s never been here before.

He runs around like a jumped up little urchin on speed, knocking in to players left, right and centre off the ball – trying to be the big man and giving it large.  As he’s always been throughout his entire career, he was just a little boy upfront, and when he tried to body check Peter Schmeichel of all people, who just raised his arms after catching the ball making Owen run in to a mountain, he should have learned his lesson.  In fact he probably did…so he tried another tack.

Ronny Johnsen, out on the south stand touchline cleared a ball, and Owen – pacing towards the Norwegian made a two footed lunge at the centre back, making full on contact with his ankles, and effectively ending his season.  Johnsen recovered, but someone who was an essential cog in a side that won many league titles and the Champions League was never the same player again.

Owen got a red card for the challenge, and I’ve often wondered if he’s ever apologised to Johnsen for that reckless lunge which many believe was the premature downfall of Johnsen’s United career.

I really struggle to think how a United supporter, who was there at that time and was embedded in those days where it was still about football, could welcome Michael Owen to the club with open arms.  Regardless if it’s about getting one up on the Scousers, I’d rather have a United type player.  Someone who deserves to be there.

For me, there is just too much against Michael Owen.  He’s been here for two years too long.  He’s not Manchester United.  He never has been.  And I hope that, in the summer, that becomes official.

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