Owen swaps Magpies for medals
THIS week Manchester United made two new signings – Antonio Valencia from Wigan and Michael Owen.
One of those signings, Valencia, is not surprising, but the purchase of 29-year-old Owen certainly is.
This is exactly the kind of transfer that I called for in one of my earlier blogs (although I think it would be pushing it to suggest I in any way inspired Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision).
It is a total bolt from the blue; last week Owen was a washed-up relic of bygone glory days, staring down the barrel of move to Hull or Stoke.
Now he has been entrusted by Ferguson as one of the men to replace Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tévez at the biggest club in the world.
This is a move that cannot fail for either party.
Owen has a chance to win some serious medals and force his way into Fabio Capello’s World Cup plans, while avoiding a daily commute to Newcastle in his helicopter with Nicky Butt.
And Ferguson has a proven goal-scorer for as good as nothing.
The £120,000 a week Owen earned at Newcastle United will be slashed to something nearer to £50,000.
And while his Liverpool past means he will never be taken to the hearts of either of the Manchester United fans from Manchester, he is still a big enough name with United’s fans in Asia – the ones that really count –
to sell enough shirts over there to cover those wages.
At least that is what his brochure says.
But United hope that they will pay Owen something resembling his Newcastle wage, because that means he will be fit and scoring goals, triggering lucrative bonuses in his contract.
Owen is still capable of this, but Ferguson is not naive enough to go all in on him quite yet.
Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov are expected to form United’s front two, but options are thinning as to who else can join their attack.
Karim Benzema was the principal big-name target, but has opted to become the latest galactico at Real Madrid instead.
Franck Ribery and David Villa seemingly have their hearts set on similar moves, leaving few big-name alternatives for United to pursue.
But it is the questions of whether Owen can stay fit and reproduce his best form, which are most intriguing as the new season approaches.