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Owen: Fergie Told Me Benzema Was First Choice

Michael Owen has revealed the details of the conversation he had during that breakfast meeting with Sir Alex Ferguson which lead to the striker becoming a Manchester United player.

“The manager’s voice is pretty distinctive,” Owen said, “so I knew it wasn’t a wind-up. He said, ‘We are looking for a striker. I’m going to be up front, we went for Benzema and once that was a no-go we looked around for players who are going to score goals. Obviously the big question is if you are fit, but if you are and we can get plenty of games, then words to the effect that it’s a no-brainer. Anyway, there’s no point in talking on the phone, we’ll chat about it tomorrow if you are free and fancy coming round.’ I had a few butterflies before I went there. I listened more than I talked, which I thought was pretty wise. He said, ‘I know what has happened over the past few years, I know you haven’t lost anything, you are only 29, for crying out loud.’ I wasn’t sure if we were just going to chat, but then I realised, ‘Oh my God, he definitely wants to sign me!’”

Owen then recalled the conversation he had with the manager regarding wearing our number seven shirt, previously worn by George Best, Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo.

“You know the attachment it has to the fans?” Ferguson asked Owen. The striker was undaunted. “I told him I was aware of that, but I wouldn’t feel any extra pressure, that it was a great honour, but it wouldn’t affect my performance in any way.”

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. aig alex is god says:

    owen is really endearing himself to the fans with his performance on the field and his interviews off the field.i think we made a good choice going for owen instead of others like huntelaar etc etc. as fergie said “which strikers will give me 15 goals a season for free”

    lets see whether he lives up to the number 7 legends though.he wont ever become a legend but even if he scores vital goals and scores 15-20 goals it is good enough.

  2. Gotta hate tiny tears says:

    Sir Alex Ferguson doesnt fuck around does he.
    Owens Awesome

  3. Giles Oakley says:

    4-3 mate, adds up to 7…

  4. islandred1981 says:

    I’d never really had anything against him, but I can’t believe how much I’m warming to Michael Owen.

    When I think of proper scouse bastards in the mould of Gerrard or Carragher or even Fowler, Owen’s not in that category.

    Reading his interviews, and listen to him speak, it’s blindingly obvious he wants to play for United.

    He’s settled in straight away and you know we’re not going to have any whinging from him about a dream about playing for Madrid (as Benzema) would have done; or crying about not being loved enough (as the bitter would have done and did).

    Welcome to Manchester, Michael.

    The European Capital of Trophies!

  5. Red Simmo says:

    Doesnt half make a difference though when you think of a player being a dipper and he actually is a dipper by birth.

    The thing with King Michael of Owen is that fortuantely for him, he only ever played for the dippers – he never was one.

    He can quite happily hold a conversation without phlegm coming from the back of his throat, he can accept blame on occasions he was at fault, he doesnt blame others for mistakes or even blame people who were not involved – he basically has no traits of a born dipper.

    On the assumption Sir Ferg and his staff ethnically cleansed KMofO when he arrived, I for one fully accept him into our fold – albeit slightly aided by his heroics in the derby.

  6. Devilton says:

    I’m glad I never doubted he would be a good signing for us. everything about the deal just made SENSE. Owen has always scored goals. He has always had the ability to find the back of the net, and with the transfer being 0, and his performance based wages there was simply no way we were going to end up losing.

    I also had a feeling he would keep fit, and would benefit from being in a world class team again. His past roots didn’t bother me either. Once he joined United you knew he would be committed to the cause, if only because it served his own self-interest (and i don’t think a greedy striker is a bad thing either).

    I really hope he has smashing season with us and pushes for an England spot. I doubt he will make the team unless Defoe or Bent breaks a leg but I think his goal tally will help us achieve our goals.

    He’s already one of us for me, his goal against citeh just made it official.


    You become a legend at Old Trafford by doing lots of legendary things.
    Michael Owen has been wityh us for only five minutes and already he has done one legendary thing.
    It was SO important for morale to beat City. More importantly it was to beat City the United way. ATTACK ATTACK ATTACK TIL THE FINAL WHISTLE IS BLOWN.

    (You can also become a legend at Old Trafford by running on the pitch and saying 4-3 to Craig Bellamy Lol)

  8. zappa says:

    What about pairing Rooney and Owen up front for a few games see what their partnership will bring to us? I don’t give a damn who he played for in the past, he’s with us now so lets give him a go. or is he still not match fit enough following his spell at Newcastle….

  9. Gudjohnsen says:

    I like reading honest interviews like that. Owen is a good lad and I’m sure he’ll score more important goals for us like the one against City.

  10. the scottish wonder says:

    Last year Owen was one of the players i hated most in the world and Tevez was one of the players i loved most

    How thing turn around in football

    Viva Owen #7

  11. Paul the red says:

    owen > tevez

  12. lovedale says:

    Who wore the No 7 between Best and Robson? Coppell?

  13. kel says:

    Serious, for such a big icons to be in our squad and being a prolific striker and not fussed about being on the substitute bench, i see him being better than tevez. From the moment he celebrate his first goal for us, the joy on his face is priceless. Loved it.

  14. King Eric says:

    Red Simmo – “He can quite happily hold a conversation without phlegm coming from the back of his throat, he can accept blame on occasions he was at fault, he doesnt blame others for mistakes or even blame people who were not involved – he basically has no traits of a born dipper”.


  15. rachelreddevil says:

    i never doubted his ability. it will never totally sit right with me bt its getting there. owen has always been a legend for scoring goals. but it’s an even bigger challenge to become a united legend. he just needs to come on and score goals and when he gets a chance to start play score even more. i dont know whether i want to him to score the winner at the kop end or score the 6th in a spanking against the dippers but il settle for either.

  16. Red Simmo says:

    Lovedale –

    Willie Morgan took the No.7 briefly before Coppell arrived.

    King Eric –

    You are obviously familiar with getting a face load of spit from bin dipping illiterates trying to say simple words like “Chicken” or “turkey”?

  17. Stephen says:

    In fairness he has settled in well and looks like he is getting his head down and wants to make a success of his time here, but don’t let him in the trophy room alone for fuck sake, once a dipper always a dipper we will have nothing left for the team photo.

  18. Jack says:

    how come people call owen a scouser? his from chester aint he??? all he has connections with pool is that his played for them and supports everton

  19. Gotta hate tiny tears says:

    sammy mcelroy Morgan coppel and whiteside

  20. cantona7 says:

    well his past reputation is worthy of number7, but to be fair, number7 deserves much greater service. A hell lot of goals, and a hell lot of magic. I hope Kiko can wear 7 in the future. Or maybe Nani if he lives up to the expectation.

  21. bigphil2003 says:

    Zappa, to be honest I’ve never been that impressed by Rooney and Owen as a partnership from their England days (but that might be more down to the manager). From what I saw on pre season though a Berbatov/Owen partnership works very well. Unfortunately that’s a no go because there’s no way Rooney should be dropped – it’s nice to have as a backup though in case the unspeakable happens at some point in the season.

  22. Jack says:

    welbeck for number 7 in the future, his a winger well his better as a winger, his quality, a manc and supports united..what more can u ask for

  23. Red Simmo says:


    Dont ever recall McIlroy or Whiteside in the No7 shirt – not for a prolonged period anyway.

    McIlroy was typically 8, 10 or 4 for much of his career which were common numbers for midfielders.
    Whiteside started life as a striker (usually 10 – more commonly used as a strikers number in the 1980′s) and later moved into midfield often with the no.4 shirt.

    No.7 was usually a winger as was No.11 – infact in the couple of seasons before Best left he was often 11 and Morgan was 7.

  24. Doghouse says:

    What I rate most about Owen is that he’s just so cold blooded when he needs to be. You put any mortal man in front of the City goal in the dying seconds of injury time in a Manchester derby with a shot to place at an angle past a good shot stopper, his head is going to explode. Pure sensory overload; the crowd, the tension, the history, the consequences, the big bastard keeper coming at you, no mere mortal can handle that. Owen did though- just took the ball, aimed, shot, scored- then became a mere mortal again and went apeshit, as well he should. It’s the same mentality that let him single handedly take on and beat the Argentinian defence in 1998, the same mentality that means no matter how few starts he gets or how shit the club he plays for he will take his chances, the guy is a natural striker.

    It’s a pretty unlikely chain of events that have brought one of the greatest natural goalscorers in English football history to United on a free transfer before his 30th birthday but I’m bloody glad to have him.

  25. knightsmith says:

    RE: Red Simmo

    Michael was born in Chester , so thankfully he’s not a dipper by birth!

  26. Red Simmo says:


    My point exactly – I consider him more Welsh than dippish……only a slight improvement, but an improvement none the less!

  27. Gotta hate tiny tears says:

    McIlroy had the number 7 shirt when he arrived at united due to best suspension and wore it a few times after best left and was called the next geaorge best even when georgie was still on the united books
    white side wore number 7 sparingly aswell

  28. Gotta hate tiny tears says:

    whiteside also wore the number 3

  29. Red Simmo says:


    Do you reckon in big Norm’s day they just turned up pissed after a Friday night out and just grabbed whatever shirt they could?

  30. Steve99 says:

    I think GHTT is obviously as pissed as Big Norm used to be. Whiteside in the Number 7 or 3 shirt… I don’t think so.

  31. manutdchampions2008 says:

    I cant believe fergie was thinking of getting that dick his attitude towards the game is awful

  32. Ulster Red says:

    who would that be your talking about

  33. King Eric says:

    I remember big Norm in 10 and mainly number 4 shirt.

  34. manutdchampions2008 says:

    Ulster Red
    benzama I am talking about

  35. Sketch says:

    Good signing. He is 29 not too old or too young that he will be in the way of youngsters progressing. Is determined and ambitious and seems to be a decent lad. Never had anything against him, but is really warming to him after his performances on the pitch and what he says in interviews.


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