To friends of both myself AND Mr. Samuel Rhodes III esq. (he’s not really a “III esq.” just well felt like putting that down!) it may seem like I stole his blog idea of typing about Michael Owen. Long story short no, this was intended just Sam’s awesome blog gave me the kick in the bum to actually implement and execute. I know sometimes I type like I have a PhD. in English and sometimes I type like I’m your mate and we’re nattering at a bus shelter waiting for the next R70, but that’s me I sometimes like to be professional sometimes I don’t (SPOILER: It tends to be a weekday vs. weekend thing).
So, Sam wrote about the Summer of 1998, England vs. Argentina, Beckham vs. Simeone, Shearer vs. Batistuta, Seaman vs. Roa, Nap vs. Siesta. this match was neither nap or siesta worthy, it was “merely” worthy. Full of explosion and life, this match renewed a rivalry that Diego Maradona started, a Falklands War ended officially i.e. “not really doe”, and of course England with a solid squad, fever pitch was high as always come a World Cup. An 18 year old Michael Owen was “our” future, a lad with, to excuse the pun of a quite catchy Embrace song, “the world at [his] feet“, Liverpool academy product, a fearless cheetah of the game, that was Michael Owen, an amazing run capped with that memorable goal.
Owen scored 118 goals in 216 games in his time with Liverpool (up until 2004), that’s a 1.8 game strike rate, not bad at all. Due to this superb record moves to Real Madrid (2004-05), Newcastle (2oo5-09), and now Manchester United (2009-) all followed, but what also followed this amazing player? Injury unfortunately. Michael Owen unfortunately for club and country has a history of injury, and it is a lengthy injury history at that, mainly hamstring injuries for that matter, 6 to be precise, same number of groin strains. Then throw on top of that 3 thigh muscle strains, 2 metatarsal fractures, 2 calf muscle injuries, 1 ankle injury, 1 case of mumps, 1 virus, 1 ACL knee injury, 1 foot injury, sounds more like the injury equivalent of ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’.
With each injury comes physiotherapy, and months of it, people wish a player comes backas good as they were but I see each player like a plank of wood (take that as you will), each injury is a sander, eventually that plank of wood gets layers chipped away, then “how thick is the plank of wood?”. I just don’t see with Rooney, (current star of the moment) Hernandez, and (when he feels like it) Berbatov, can Owen get back into the mix, I want it more than anything, never have I seen a player with so much guile, vigour, pace, and skill, but Owen is a speedster. Michael Owen is the footballing equivalent of an NFL running back, you can get different kinds, your big heavy bulldozers, your small nimble speedsters, your “DON’T EVEN TOUCH ME! I DON’T WANNA GET MY JERSEY DIRTY”, Owen as a speedster has his issues, a game based on speed isn’t destined to last, injury and age don’t help proceedings. Owen shows glimpses of his “old self”, but glimpses just don’t seem to help him, the winner last season in the Manchester Derby, a monster game in the Champions League vs. Wolfsburg to score a hat-trick, great cup performances, but then the next match, he’s either on the bench or out of the squad.
With this latest injury in a long line, which means more physiotherapy, more training, more patience, patience Manchester United and the Premier League table can’t allow, with Rooney out as well, that’s Hernandez and Berbatov up front. Unless Sir Alex utilizes 4-5-1 at home as well as away, our attacking options in a 4-4-2 formation look limited, Macheda and Bébé, probably in that order, and lets be honest, can they handle that level yet, I mean constantly, Sir Alex likes giving youth appearances, but never more than 3 or 4 back-to-back games, United would need that from them in case of injury.
Honestly, I think this is the last season Owen spends with United, he’ll join Liverpool on another free, especially the way they are at the moment, and I feel he’s past it, he’s just not starter quality. The move was suspect all along, a free transfer from a team that got relegated due to more mercenaries than men-at-work, a race against time to make a World Cup squad, the Liverpool vs. Manchester United rivalry and Owen moves teams from one to the other, it was more like a drama series or a Hollywood script than a footballers career. I thank Michael Owen for the memories… The World Cup 1998 memories that is.