Friday, July 03, 2009

Owen to United: Desperation or a good move?

News that United have just signed Michael Owen will have quite rightly shocked many followers of the club, yet bizarrely some of those fans were glad to see the back of Carlos Tevez - you do wonder what the very same supporters will be making of signing a player whose career has been severely blighted by injuries?

Whatever the fans say, the fact is United have just lost the services of two world-class strikers and have replaced them with one who has spent far too long on treatment table - from that perspective this transfer cannot be viewed as anything but a step backwards for the champions. It is also a signing of desperation, because according to the media, only Hull City were interested in acquiring the services of the former Newcastle forward.

Ferguson will no doubt also sign at least one more striker before the summer window closes, it will more than likely be Huntelaar from Real Madrid. No matter what the fans say about Ferguson's summer transfer dealings we will only be able to fully judge the manager at the end of the next season, but the danger is if the manager keeps on signing mid-table club players the champions will become a mid-table club themselves and I personally fear that is where United are heading this season.

Personally, I have many misgivings about the events of this summer, in particular the botched handling of Carlos Tevez who should have been signed last summer. United had twelve months to sort out the Tevez situation and they knew Ronaldo was going too, they have signed an ageing striker whose best days are almost certainly behind him. Ferguson is known to be a fan of Owen; back in 2005 I'm led to believe he came close to becoming United player, but for whatever reason that move never came off.

From a tactical perspective it will be interesting to see where Owen fits into the manager's plans. Despite his impressive goal-scoring record, the former Liverpool striker cannot be classed as a classic centre-forward, he is penalty-box predator, one who used to rely on his blistering pace, but sadly Owen has lost much of his pace due to successive injury problems. One suspects Fergie will use Owen as a reserve striker, he will effectively be an insurance policy who will be used when the need arises, and much will depend on who Fergie signs next.

A few weeks ago we the fans were led to believe the club would not sign players over the age of 27, news of the Owen signing makes a complete mockery of that notion, and what’s more the club are in serious danger of being labelled as a bunch of hypocritical cheapskates.


  1. I think it's a gamble that could pay off. Yes I may be slightly over-optimistic about his fitness, but if he is fit - there's no doubt he can still score goals. At 29, I think he's still got atleast a couple of good seasons in him. He had a good partnership with Rooney when they played for England and it could be the case yet again, hopefully. Tevez scored about 15 goals last season, I think Owen could cover that.
    About signing players over the age of 27, I think what the report said was that United didn't feel it would be right to spend a larger transfer fee in acquiring a player older than 27. In Owen's case, it's a free transfer - So I don't think it's making a mockery of that notion. Plus, if reports are to be believed - it's something like a pay-as-you-play/score deal, which I think makes it all the more worth it. Atleast we won't be paying over-the-top wages like Newcastle did if he's injured.
    All in all, you're right - we can only judge at the end of the season. It surely is a risk - a big one, but in Sir Alex I trust.

  2. And one more thing - if he does succeed - wouldn't we all love to see the look on the faces of Liverpool fans? I sure would.

  3. Nik, I suspected some fans would say Owen will score 15 goals next season, I have my doubts personally.

    My own view is that Owen has always relied too much on his pace, and he's very one footed with no left foot to speak of, factor in his lack of heading ability and added to his loss of pace and I cannot help feel this signing smacks of desperation.

    Fergie isn't taking United forward with this signing, quite the reverse we appear to be going backwards, but like I say I will reserve final judgement until later.

  4. To be honest with you I think the fans of rival clubs will be laughing at this news. They will be rubbing their grubby hands at the thoughts of facing toothless United next season.

  5. My first thought went something along the lines of "oh my god we're gonna get some stick for this one...!" Curiously enough, my second thought went something like that as well.
    But after I checked the date wasn't April the 1st and went and sat down for a bit, I came to the conclusion that this COULD work.
    If - and I do concede it is an if - if Fergie does manage to coax a season or two out of him then suddenly a free transfer and a pay-as-you-play deal seams a snip.
    If it doesn't work out I can see it going ill for him on the terraces. Especially when we play the Scousers. He could end up getting it from both sides!

  6. Yes it does smack of desperation James. Ideally we all would have liked Benzema/Ribery/Villa. Unfortunately they all prefer to stay in Spain. I won't bring up Tevez here - because I'm only focusing on new signings here. So our options are limited. It won't make sense to spend big money again (like we did we Berba) on a player who isn't going to fulfill expectations. Even Benzema at 30-35m was a slight risk. So instead of just splashing the cash, this might not be a bad idea especially since it isn't going to cost the club too much.
    Let's just wait for the end of the season to see how it goes.

  7. Nik, you're dead right there about lack of targets, that is the crux of the matter, but as I've been saying on here for two weeks Fergie needs to find the next Ronaldo.... he's been busily chasing fool's gold when all along we knew Benzema was never going to come to United.

    I don't see how the Tevez affair can be ignored personally, that was a mess of Fergie's own making.

  8. Hawkeye, Like I posted we have to reserve final judgement, but I do fear the worst for the player and manager...

  9. I feel that Owen could be a very useful acquisition for United as obviously he is arriving for free & I would hope on a deal based upon appearance/goals. Yes he has lost some pace but can still score goals at the top level. He will only be a bit part player so maybe injuries will not be so much of an issue. I expect Owen knows he will be a bit part player so will be happy with spending time on the bench unlike Tevez. He wants to get back into the England squad & this will be a big chance for him to show Capello he still has something to offer.

    I'm expecting big things from Macheda in the future & this takes some pressure off him & he may well learn a lot from Owen.

    Also I seem to remember Owen scoring a very good goal with his left foot against Arsenal late in the FA Cup final a few years ago!

    I know you've mentioned your unhappiness over the Tevez situation a number of times over the past few weeks but I personally am not too bothered by that. For sure we will miss some aspects of his game but for me he was a bit overated. My respect for him has dropped a lot in is recent weeks due to his whinging.

    Finally, just imagine Owen coming off the bench to score the winner at the kop. Now that would be priceless!!!

    Not our greatest summer transfer wise but in Fergie we trust.

  10. Vaud,

    Good comments. I particularly like the bit about Macheda learning from Owen, I think that's a good you I'm hoping he will take centre stage and take the opportunities that will definitely come his way, I just hope he can cope with the added pressure, but the early signs have been very encouraging.

    ..regarding Owen and his dodgy left foot, you keep an eye on him and come back and tell me if I'm wrong in a few months time, I don't remember that goal, but I'm not saying it didn't happen. Owen's whole game revolved around his pace... The Kop scenario would be sweet, but I don't see it happening.

  11. Re: the over 26 policy, the thinking behind this was about the diminishing market value of players over 26. Owen was free which is why that policy doesn't apply.

    Re: Owen, I am underwhelmed. But let's see what other players Fergie buys this summer.

  12. James - it's a no risk transfer. He's costing nothing and he's on a pay-as-you-play deal; if he does well people will say it was a shrewd move, if he doesn't then nothing much will have been lost. I assume Utd will buy another striker in any case. If Owen stays fit (and of course it's a big if but it's not impossible), he'll score 20 goals for you this season. The problem is I don't see him doing much against the big clubs. The reason so many managers (Capello, Benitez etc) have been cynical about Owen is that he only gives teams goals. When he's not scoring, he doesn't give you much else, particularly now he's lost his pace. Given the way teams have to play now, he's a bit of an anachronism. Still, I think it's a clever move. I assume he'll get a lot of stick from Liverpool fans, but that's a bit unfair, given that noone else came in for him.

  13. RR and Alex,

    It doesn't matter how much you dress up this move, it's a poor one - United are not going forward with the arrival of Owen - it is a step backwards.

    It's not that dissimilar to the Stam/Blanc scenario. We sold a world-class defender and brought in a player that Fergie had trailed for some time, but it was a case of wrong time, wrong player. It was cheap short-term solution and one that eventually cost United £30m to put right with the signing of Ferdinand.

    Some fans are saying Owen is capable of scoring 15 goals a season, just like Tevez - what they forget is the Argentine was fit for the whole season - I'll be amazed if Owen is fit for anything like a whole season.

    If Fergie signs another striker, say Huntelaar (another case of Hobsons choice) then maybe the arrival of Owen will be more acceptable. Right now the manager's options look bleak, our hopes are likely to centre of Macheda coming good because I seriously do not see the Berbatov Rooney partnership working.

    Owen should be looked upon as a useful reserve, nothing more than that. You also have to remember that even at his very best Owen contributed very little outside the opposition penalty area - in games when you are under the kosh, he is a proverbial passenger.

    United needed to sign a complete centre forward (not Berbatov), we do not look like getting one.

    As I have posting ever since news of Ronaldo was to be sold, it is going to take a couple of seasons (at least) to get over the events of this summer.

    From now on in the short term at least anyway, we are likely to see a more workman like United who will really struggle to score goals.

  14. At first i was against the idea of signing owen. I have never liked him as a player. But then when you sit down and think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Fergie has missed out on his main targets this summer, I reckon he was not prepared to pay over the top on players like ibra/pato/augero etc. If he did that would have been desperation. So with the 2 young lads at the club kiko and welbeck, he has brought in owen for two years and hopefully by then at least one of the two will be ready for the first team.

  15. I think Owen was signed to buy Fergie some time. Any big name player we have even glanced at has been signed up by Madrid. There simply isnt any stand out players left to look at this summer. He waneted Benzema and failed and doesnt really seem to know who else to target (if there even is anyone) so the Owen deal will buy him 12 months before he addresses the situation again with that nice pot of money and none on it thrown out on a panic buy striker.

    Tevez would have cost us £25m, he really wasent worth that sort of money after the £10m or so we had already paid. I will agree Tevez is better than Owen but not a great deal better and not worth blowing £25m on as a third choice striker. Last year Rooney/Tevez/Berba didnt cut it. We needed Ronaldos goals on top of them and I honestly thought Fergie believed he would have a Rooney/Benzema/Berba strikeforce this season to get more goals and so had planned to let Tevez go only to backtrack late on when Madrid started signing everyone we looked at or our targets claiming they have dreamed of playing in Spain for them.

    We cannot replace Ronaldo. Valencia is another Nani in my opinion. Tevez is easily replaced. He was a third choice striker and Owen will do that job (if he stays fit) whilst offering more chances for Kiko and Wellbeck.

    I look at this season as a transitional one. We cant just replace Ronaldo and move on, we need to change the way we play. I reckon in 12 months time we will see a couple big names join the club.

  16. Tony,

    I will make a prediction here and now that Macheda will play more games than Owen this season, I just hope he takes the opportunities that come his way, because he looks to have almost everything we need. I've always said Fergie has been a bit of a lucky manager and maybe lady luck will smile upon him again if Macheda blossoms.

  17. Dave,

    I disagree with you about the value of Tevez and I suspect United will live to regret their handling of the player. Time will tell. I

    do agree with you though about the need for another top striker to replace Ronaldo. Rooney has been playing at his max, there's not much more to give, Berbatov simply is not a United player and never will be. Nani is a waste of space and I so truly hope Valencia isn't as unproductive/wasteful.

    Interesting times ahead me thinks. We might well see a fair few bandwagon hoppers jumping ship along the way.

  18. I believe Owen is 10x better than Tevez. I'd sell Tevez 1000x to get Owen. Despite his bad shape, he can still be a valuable asset for United, more than I can say for the self-centered Tevez.

  19. We don't of course have all the facts. But as the narrative is shaping up in the papers, United don't get the men they want. The same seems to apply to the other big clubs (except for wannabe-City maybe). All the stars seem to want to be in Spain.

    I think SAF's strategy has usually been to buy players who have proved themselves in England and he is prepared to pay large sums for them. Also it seems like these new UEFA-rules call for more homegrown players (the reason for Benitez buying Glen Johnson at such a hgih price).

    So it seems kind of logical to buy Owen; he satisfies the UEFA-requirements and is "proven" in the UK.

    But is a very risky buy tactically; you can't trust that he will be fit, he doesn't really work with Rooney, he slows the team down (as I think Tevez did last year), I don't think he is much use in counter-attacking. So it must be that SAF thinks of him as a kind of maybe-option: Maybe when a team has ten behind the ball at OT, Owen could hang around the box and score (if he is fit). We might gain some insight into this when Birmingham come to OT (if Owen hasn't injured himself in pre-season).

    Maybe SAF should buy Heskey (!) as he works well with Rooney and Owen.

    Maybe the 80 million buys the club some time; I've had the feeling United have to win everything all the time to keep up the interest-payments. So there could be time for Welbeck to prove himself as a first-team regular. Valencia, Welbeck and Rooney could be very good on the counter.

    The team as it stands should be able to do the business in the PL; maybe not win it but least be second or third; however more is needed for Europe. I would be satisfied if SAF wanted to give Welbeck and Macheda extended runs but only if he buys more power in the middle.

  20. Dave,

    You clearly don't rate Tevez but I tell you here and now he will outscore Owen next season by some distance.

  21. AM, We don't have all the facts, but truth be told the fact is we are in a mess up front and everyone knows it.

    IMO, our best hope next is Macheda and if you're relying on a youngster then it speaks volumes about the strength of your attacking options. I will say there's not a lot of top quality attacking tagets at this moment. It wouldn't surprise me if Fergie went for Adebayor or Van Persie.

  22. I hear fans saying it's a no-risk move.Financially, yes, but in every other sense, a mighty big no.

    Presumption: Fergie doesn't buy another forward, someone who ticks all the boxes.

    If Owen fails, United, in all those rival forums and football cartoon websites, would be a laughing stock.Imagine the sight of Fergie's face splattered with a big Kiwi egg, that would sum it up well.
    If Owen fails,I simply cant see where the goals to make a serious challenge for the title would come from.

    I would like to see the following happening at United.Although I'm not very optimistic(Aah!Now I'm starting to share some of your negativity) that any of these would be effected, i guess there is no harm in being hopeful.

    1) Get Edin Dzeko( Fergie needs to use all his persuasive skills to make him fall out of love with Milan)/Fabiano(Psst!This would violate the transfers-only-below-sweet-27 policy)/Eto'o(Again over 27).

    2) Loan an experienced defensive mid-fielder until Hargreaves is fit.

    3) Sanchez/Silva/Vucinic. We need a multi-purpose player.

    And finally, James, I see nowadays u simply cant write without making a mention of Tevez.Point noted,please,move on. I guess you would only be pacified if Fergie is hanged and his body paraded around the Theater of Dreams.

  23. HR,

    I agree with your points about Owen being a mighty big risk, the finance doesn't really come into it, just because he's costing us nothing it doesn't follow we should sign him, after all only Hull City wanted him. Would Chelsea, Arsenal or Liverpool have signed Owen? I think not.

    Even City wouldn't have bothered - and let's be honest we'd have laughed at them if they'd signed him....

    Regarding strikers who we might yet still sign, there's a slim chance of Van Persie or Adebayor but IMO Huntelaar is the most likely.

    Regarding your point about strengthening midfield, as I mentioned earlier this week I'd go for Royston Drenthe who will give us cover all down the left flank, this in turn would allow Rooney to play in a more central supporting role.

  24. "if the manager keeps on signing mid-table club players the champions will become a mid-table club"

    Roy Keane came from Nottingham Forest, Steve Bruce came from Norwich City, Gary Pallister came from Middlesbrough.......

    United always sign mid-table club players, but alway success, so I don't think that's a problem, even though the time is different.

    Michael Owen, a 2.63 games-per-goal player signed for free, I think United did a smart job. It doesn't similar to the Stam/Blanc scenario as you said, because Tevez is much smaller than Stam IMO and it's not a good idea to compare between those two stories. Blanc was a signing of desperation, and so do Ole Solskjaer and Teddy Sheringham who came to OT to replace Eric Cantona. Owen relied on his pace often, that's the reason why he could score such many goals when he was young, but he also can score goals without the pace he used to have right now. Why? Because he already became smarter during his Newcastle time. He can make a SUB qualifiedly, but only a SUB. I think Fergie will continue to cost some money and bring a forward in this summer, and I also think Fergie should bring a qualified midfield as well, Lee Cattermole and Muamba are both good choice IMO.

    All of us are not seer. So, let's wait and see what will be happening in next season

  25. James, think you got me and 'David' confused on the last Tevez/Owen comment :)

    Unlike David I dont believe Owen is better than Tevez, I just dont feel he is an additional £25m and £50k+ a week better than Owen.

    Interesting what you said about your prediction that Macheda will play more games than Owen this season. I actually believe you have a point there and I'm quite hopefull on the Owen signing. I do look at Wellbeck and Macheda and dont believe either is capable of the 4th choice striker spot. I could see fergie rotating between them and with neither ever really stepping up (at least not this season).

    Huntelaar is a good player and would be worth a punt as a backup striker but his spell at Madrid has put me off him somewhat. Amazing at Ajax, poor at Madrid. My fear is he would be equally poor at United.

    Berbatov/Rooney won't get us anywhere and I hope Fergie will throw some money around and get Aguero. I really rate the guy and even though he isnt exactly the type of forward we are after, he seems the type eho can make things happen. I still dont think Cantona/Hughes should have worked on paper but look how amazing they were together.

    Im also quite a fan of Ashley Young and would have been nice to have brought him in for the left wing even if Villa did sting us for him.

  26. Ruud,

    Keano was a big star in the making, everyone knew it too. The same can be said of Pally, we paid top money for him, a record I believe for a defender (unless my memory is slipping). Bruce was an inspirational signing, a vastly under-rated performer and one who should have been capped, but never was.

    Owen is on the way down, hence my mid-table club jibe - there was retirement talk a few weeks ago and although it has been denied sections of the media say there's some truth in the rumours, but then again... what you cannot argue with is no other top club wanted Owen. Time will tell, but I have serious doubts about this move.

  27. Dave, apologies for mixing you up with someone else. I too have reservations about Huntelaar, he's too slow for one thing. United need a genuine all round centre-forward, someone who is ideally quick and can score goals. I'd go for Drogba if he'd come and if Chelsea would sell him, but that won't happen will it?

    If Fergie sorted out the midfield he could switch back to a flexible 4:4:2 / 4:5:1 and just maybe somone like Huntelaar (target man type) could fit in, but the midfield isn't strong enough (as we found out in the CL final) and this is why Fergie keeps on playing Rooney wide left - to give balance and cover at the same time, but the answer is he needs to find a top quality left sided player. I'd go for Drenthe from Madrid who I rate highly, but others do not...

  28. James,

    good point about no other clubs were interested in Owen, that's the thing I can't argue with. But his efficiency was really good

    The Stats since he joined Newcastle

    2005/06 Appearances:11 shots:18 SOT:14 Goals:7

    2006/07 Appearances:3 Shots:3 SOT:2 Goals:1

    2007/08 Appearances:29 Shots:47 SOT:31 Goals:11

    2008/09 Appearances:28 Shots:35 SOT:17 Goals:8

    Total Shots:103 SOT:64 Goals:27

    4 Shots = 1 goal almost, so Owen was not only relied on his pace

    and most importantly, he is only a SUB, all he needs to do is coming on and score goals. And we need a qualified forward on the bench. If owen is the last forward come to OT in this summer, I will think you are right, because we do a big gamble on a player who suffered too much injure, but right now I think Fergie will bring another striker in, and I actually want Fabiano.

  29. I really rate Drogba, reckon hes a fantastic striker just a total moron with his whinging and everything else. I was always a fan of Adriano, shame he lost his marbles.

    I must confess to not knowing a lot about Drenthe. I guess I put him in the same pile as Van Der Vaart, Huntelaar etc. One of Madrids many squad players who must have been amazing pre-Madrid but done nothing since. I also imagine like Sneider (who I think would be a great signing for our midfield)/Van Der Vaart etc that Drenthe has been offered around as part of Real's firesale to help fund this spending they have been making?

    Shame we didnt get Drenthe/Sneijder/Huntelaar as part of the Ronaldo deal. We could have got them at discount price then, I somehow think Madrid would sting us for more now the Ronaldo deal is done.

  30. Ruud,

    I accept your point about Owen having a decent SOT ratio, but those stats don't actually tell us very much apart from the fact that Owen had plenty of shots on target. For example how many of those shots were from inside the box? My point being he has almost always been a penalty-box man. What United need is a complete centre forward, someone who can lead the line and be relied upon to hold up the ball when required. Someone who will terrorise the opposition back four - Owen hasn't really ever done those things.

  31. Dave,

    I think Fergie et al will be wary of appearing to look like they've taken Real's cast-off's in exchange for Ronaldo... but you're right maybe this would be better than the alternative of no signings, we might have to go back to Real cap in hand. They will nail our hat on over prices too... (too many hats in that reply:0))

  32. James,

    Owen is not the last one I think. Fergie still looking for another . But if Owen is the last striker come to OT in this summer, Man Utd will get a really big gamble for next season without doubts.

    I too want a real No.9 likes Louis Saha. I hope and I think that Fergie has "plan B" to deal with that. Let's see what will happen this summer.

  33. I've got a question... What about Aguero? Don't you think Man Utd will sign him?

  34. James, I see you're a huge admirer of Tevez, and are visibly aggrieved over the handling of the entire situation regarding him. However, I really don't see how he's worth 32M, hell I don't even consider him a 25M striker. He's noticeably lost his ball-control and his conversion rate leaves much to be desired. He's a worker, yea, but that doesn't justify spending 32M on him. This is of course, without taking Berbatov into account, coz he's (so far at least) the biggest waste of cash I've ever seen.

    I can see more logic in getting rid of Tevez when you take into account Kiko Macheda who's got immense potential and surely deserves some decent first team run-in the coming season. Morover, we all thought Drogba was a complete waste of money in his first season with Chelsea until he proved us all wrong. So I'm still hoping Berba will surprise me. :)

    All in all, I wouldn't say getting rid of Tevez was the worst thing to've happened to United..


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