Michael Owen will see out the final year of his contract with Manchester United during the coming season but injury and the immediate impact of new Mexican striker Javier Hernández is likely to reduce the former Liverpool forward’s role in the team. Owen, 30, appeared in 31 games for United last season, scoring nine goals.
Owen’s arrival on a free transfer last summer followed a disastrous injury-plagued four year spell at relegated Newcastle United. Indeed, the animosity the former England striker created among the Gallowgate faithful is a direct result of the player’s heavy wages, huge transfer fee and lack of serious impact.
Widely regarded as a surprise signing by Sir Alex Ferguson, the picture of Owen’s time at Newcastle hardly altered in his single season at Old Trafford. Injury, quite predictably, ended a campaign in which the 30-year-old rarely started. There was perhaps little surprise in that though. After all, expectations at Old Trafford were hardly high to start with.
Now though the 89 cap international faces a challenge making the United squad, let alone the first team with seven strikers now on the club’s books. It is possible that Owen, still a few weeks short of full fitness, will have slipped to fifth in the pecking order by the time the striker returns to fitness, behind Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov, Hernández and even Federico Macheda.
The greatest challenge to Owen’s role in the team undoubtedly comes from new boy Chicharito, who on first appearances is a fitter, younger, faster and more flexible forward. Hernández, 21, scored for United against the MLS All Stars and then against his own team for CD Chivas Guadalajara on Friday night.
Although supporters’ expectations of the Mexican should be kept in check – the player is moving team, country and continent to an alien style of football – Hernández’ offers everything that Owen brings to the club, save for experience.
It’s a quality Owen spoke about this week, with the former Real Madrid player entering the final year of his contract with the club, although each party has an option for a third year at Old Trafford.
“I’d love this to be my last club,” said Owen, who is unlikely to return until September.
“You look at Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville and you like to think you have five more years in the game. I’m 30, and I don’t want to wish my career away. In an ideal world I’d like to play out my years here.
“I had great moments last season – a hat-trick in the Champions League and a goal in the Carling Cup Final, but the derby goal was fantastic. It was one of the biggest, most pure adrenaline rushes of my career. It’s alongside that Germany hat-trick, scoring twice in the FA Cup Final, and that goal in St Etienne.”
Owen needs to get fit and stay fit to challenge for a place in the United side of course. After all the player started only 10 games last season, and the Champions League hat-trick aside the player hit the net on just six other occasions.
The issue of fitness is perennially a source of frustration for the player, who appears in total denial about the problems that have dogged a career.
“I was fit for 43 games,” claimed the forward, who appeared in just 71 Premier League games over four years on Tyneside.
“The pity is I missed the ones at the end when we were playing for things. The amount of injuries I have had is exaggerated. It can be annoying, but you learn to live with it.”
In the meantime Hernández may well become another annoyance by supplanting Owen in the United squad.
18 thoughts on “Hernández impact spells end for Owen”
I’m not sure if we can start discounting Owen yet, or hyping up Hernandez too much. I mean he’s only played parts of 2 preseason games for us. I mean Owen scored 4 times in his first preseason with United. I still think Owen will have an impact for United this season.
And to those who say he was a poor buy I disagree. He cost us nothing, we are paying him next to nothing and he scored a goal we will all remember for decades to come. I think Owen will score goals for United this season and Sir Alex will give him chances. If he can chip in with 9-10 goals in all competitions again this season I think Sir Alex signing him on a two year deal will prove value.
I was just as skeptical as everyone else when we signed our little scouse friend, but I was impressed with what he did in his first season. Now we just need to start him at Anfield this season and hope, hope, hope 😉
tbf, owen needs games
Well this is an exaggeration about Michael Owen’s spot in the squad. SAF didn’t wanted to try the combination of Owen and Rooney for some reason and he explained that both of them vie for same spot. We can’t discount that fact, Owen scored that important hat-trick against a good opposition in an away match. His goal against Manchester City was very significant.It’s a disgrace to forget his goal in carling cup final. He scored 9 goals with just 9 starts. Imagine the amount of starts Berbatov got and how much he scored. He ended up with just 14 goals. Well Owen has experience and has scored loads of goals in premier league. Macheda and Hernandez, they may have pace but they lack experience. To expect them to bang goals week in week out is foolishness. They need time to settle into this level. I still believe, Owen can get us 15 goals if given more starts. He still got that eye on goal. If not for Rooney’s stunning form, he would have got more chances to play. Well with the home grown role in place, Berbatov is the one who should be worried.
I’ve been banging on about this for a while, I can see United playing with 1 up top for most of the season and Hernandez has shown enough quality to see Owen’s playing time every further reduced. A Bosman at the end of season is the most likely scenario.
Owen is the 5th choice striker essentially and the 3rd choice of his striking type. Welbeck is 6th choice will be put out on loan for 2010/11 and be back permanently the following season.
I also agree though that his signing hasn’t been a waste, and he did score some vital goals last season.
Owen has a point about being fit for 43 games. The easy assumption is because he only played 31 games he was injured for the rest. Not so. There was a chunk of the season he was fit to play but because of the one up front Rooney or nothing tactic United went with he didn’t get a look in.
No way is Owen finished as a United player. He can still score goals which at times seemed hard to do last season if you were not Wayne Rooney.
Macheda has impressed pre-season and Hernandez looks very bright and will rightly get the start and but it would be wrong to dismiss Owen.
At the risk of prejudging him I’d say that Hernandez looks like he might be a young Michael Owen; as for Owen himself I think that his experience is hugely significant; remember the year that SAF brought in Henrik Larsson on loan?
The first thing that happened was that Rooney had a huge improvement in form; sometimes simply having an older, more experienced pro around who is willing to share the value of his experience can help a younger player to come out of his shell!
This is another good point. Rooney said several times last season that a lot of his improvement was down to Owen. If Owen had any impact on Rooney’s incredible season then he has to be considered a good signing.
The title of this thread implies that Owen had a beginning with Utd.
That’s simply not true.
Rooney’s dramatic increase in goal poaching and Owen’s presense at United is not unrelated.
Doesn’t Owen speak at least a little Spanish from his time in Madrid? I’m hoping he can teach Chicharito a thing or two, like other posters have said I reckon Rooney’s benefited from having Owen in training.
No, he does not. He even drove out to the airport to buy English newspapers, even though you can buy English newspapers virtually anywhere in Madrid (like a 7-11 or whatever).
“Doesn’t Owen speak at least a little Spanish from his time in Madrid? I’m hoping he can teach Chicharito a thing or two,”
Like how to lose all his money at cards.
He’s still got a career in horses though
fergie will give owen a new deal, berbatoss will go
hopefully owen will never play for united again.
and who will score the winning goal against the derby?
ha ha yeah Owen is supposed to be a proper gambler