I’ll cover the second point first because it’s a United blog and “we do what we want”…Michael Owen has barely played this year, is getting advanced in years and is a little bit on the injury prone side. However, whilst he doesn’t have the same pace that he used to, he does still posses a fine footballing brain (if only we could give it to Bebe) and given a chance one on one with the keeper there aren’t many players I’d rather have in that position. Sir Alex has pointed out that the form of Hernandez this season has made him nearly impossible to drop whilst Rooney has been un-dropable since Ronaldo left. Next season however it would be surprising if Hernandez is able to hit quite the same highs, even though I’d love it if he could. It’ll be important to protect the young Mexican, something Ferguson is notoriously good at.
Owen, if he can stay fit, could be a useful player. The other reason I think Owen will be useful for United is the experience that he can pass on to younger players in the squad. His predatory movement is sensational and although it looks like he’s out of a game for long periods, often he’s just finding that chink. Oh and if, as rumoured he’s still on a deal based largely around goal and appearance bonuses then for United they really lose very little by keeping him on.
Now, with that part covered I’d like to defend Michael Owen’s part in this decision. Owen tweeted, and I believe his wording was slightly ill advised (there have been far worse twitter slip ups), “Just to answer some of your tweets. Prefer playing less often in a top team than every game in a poor team. Been there a didn’t enjoy it”. Plenty of people have jumped in and translated that as him being either a mercenary, lacking in ambition or just plain lazy and happy to collect an easy pay day whilst showing no desire to play more for the love of the game.
So far not a single club that I’m aware of has come in and made an offer for Owen’s services despite him being available on a Bosman. But let’s just imagine for a second that a mid-table or relegation battling team came in and offered Owen a contract. He’d be expected to play far more games and for the sake of the team would need to. He would most likely get injured. Rushed back too quickly, injured again. He’d be considered a flop and fans would be on his back. That’s the most likely scenario anyway. Owen is still a class finisher but he doesn’t exactly run the line the way he used to and doesn’t bully defenders the way a centre forward is often expected to at a struggling club. When used as an impact sub for United that isn’t a problem. The service will be there for him, he’ll just be expected to stay fit and score goals.
In terms of lacking ambition, is it better for him to bugger off to a small side and make more appearances or to stay at United, try and stay clear of injury and try and earn himself another league medal, because as he freely admits he wasn’t the most deserving this time round. Surely that’s admirable? Sir Alex Ferguson had that Sweedish God Henrik at the club for the shortest of loan spells but he had a massive impact on United’s season in a very short time, clearly Owen feels he can do the same and believes in himself at this level. For me, a lack of ambition would be going to Qatar or Saudi Arabia and collecting a huge cheque, or payment in thoroughbread horses for playing 20 games a season against old pros and novice players.
As for the mercenary accusation, any player is open to that allegation because of the astronomical wages that they earn, but what I find interesting is the fact that a player dis-respecting his club and manager by complaining about rotation, moaning that they should be playing all the time, that type of player is called un-professional and rightly so. But when a player is content with their role in the team, and as @ZonalMarking put it “aware of their limitations” then they are considered to be a mercenary.