Michael Owen – Destination unknown

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles

In 2002, the BBC aired a children’s programme called ‘Zero to Hero’. It was based on a young boy who wanted to play football, with his idol being England sensation Michael Owen, who also featured in the programme.

At the height of his powers in English football, Owen was very much the hero of Liverpool and English football. It is a stark contrast to the 29-year-old Owen who is currently languishing in the Championship, desperate to find a club. Owen’s is now a case of hero to zero.

This decline is epitomised by the production of a 34-page dossier on the former England ace. His management group, Wasserman Media Group, decided to manufacture what they titled the ‘Wasserman Brochure’.

In this booklet they highlight the former England star’s undeniable talent.

“Were it not for an unhappy spell at Real Madrid and two injury-scarred years at Newcastle, he would be spoken about in the same breath as Torres and Ronaldo and valued in the priceless figures that only match-winning goal scorers ever justify.”

This marketing tactic used by Owen’s management group has kindled many different reactions among the football world. It could be seen as a shrewd move as the soon to be out of contract striker seeks a new club.

It may be viewed as an act of utter desperation by the striker. It seems almost unheard of for a football player, not to mention one of England’s best ever finishers, to compose a document in order to seek out a new club.

The former Liverpool, Real Madrid and current Newcastle number 10 has been unfortunate with injuries. Used mainly as a substitute at the Bernabeu, since Owen’s return to North England, he has spent more time on the treatment table then the pitch.

Now, with Newcastle United having suffered from relegation to England’s second tier it seems unlikely Owen will stay. Firstly the player will want to force his way back into Fabio Capello’s England squad for the upcoming World Cup. Secondly, owner Mike Ashley cannot afford to pay Owen’s reported £120,000 a week wages.

Owen has been linked with a host of clubs already this summer, the most notable of which include Aston Villa, Everton, Manchester City and Liverpool. However Owen’s high wage demands could be a stalling block for any potential suitors.

However, there seems to be value with Owen. He is a proven goal scorer. Albeit he has lost the pace that made him a feared opponent, he still maintains his clinical ability to put the ball in the back of the net.

According to sources he would be looking for a £50,000-a-week contract. Not an unreasonable amount of money providing he stays fit. Possibly a more feasible option would be a pay as you play contract.

If he were partnered with a strong centre forward and be able to find some form, who knows, he may yet force his way back into the England reckoning. If Beckham was allowed a second chance then surely Owen is also worth one final reprieve.

Today, Liverpool’s Fernando Torres spoke out about the former Liverpool number 10. He expressed his desire for the former Real Madrid man to make an emotional return to Anfield, a move which would be similar to Robbie Fowler’s return a couple of seasons ago.

The Spaniard said: “I have no idea where he will be playing next season, but I am convinced that he still has a lot to offer.”

“He has been unlucky with injuries in recent years and I know how frustrating that can be, but he has a natural instinct in front of goal and you don’t lose that just because you have been injured.”

Owen has scored 118 goals in 226 appearances for Liverpool. Villa were rumoured to have offered a contract to Owen but that claim was soon denied on their official website.

However, it is an option O’Neill should look into. The combination of Emile Heskey and Owen worked successfully at Liverpool and should they be reunited, the pair won’t need any time to familiarise themselves once again.

He has also been linked to the club his father played for, Everton. According to reports, Moyes is looking to sign the ex-Liverpool player. The Everton manager has previously attempted to lure the forward to Goodison Park and may well be successful this time, should chairman, Bill Kenwright give him the necessary backing.

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