I know it’s only the pre-season but I think we can be forgiven for being pleased with the start of Michael Owen’s Manchester United career. I’m not going to get giddy like those deluded idiots down the road but there’s something very satisfying in seeing Owen bag two goals in his first two games.
Owen was certainly lacking in confidence before Sir Alex Ferguson invited him out for breakfast, after four miserable years up in Newcastle. However, you can’t underestimate what a difference Ferguson’s faith in you could have.
“The bottom line is that the one man in world football who I would want to have a good opinion of me wanted to sign me,” Owen said. “If Sir Alex Ferguson thinks I am good enough for Manchester United that’s all that matters.”
Regardless, there were certain to be a lot of nerves for Owen as he walked out front of almost 100,000 fans at the Bukit Jalil Stadium on Saturday, wearing United’s number seven shirt. He had half an hour to make his mark. Five minutes from time he scored the winner.
“He is one of those players you might not see for 90 minutes but in time added on, he will score a goal,” Ferdinand said yesterday. “Those are the type of players you need to win things. It is great to have him in our squad because he is such a good player and a fantastic lad to have around.”
With goals to his name, any doubts that Owen was likely carrying under his image of confidence will start to be washed away. Whatever he said when he signed for us, he must have been absolutely shitting himself. He had to be brave to take on a £30k a week salary with the Champions and he must have had enough self-confidence for that deal to be worth all the press and hassle he knew he would get. But there will have been parts of him questioning whether he still had it.
Scoring a couple of goals against a Malaysian XI doesn’t mean all those nerves have vanished but it puts him in the best frame of mind we could possibly ask for when the season starts. He can hit the ground running, knowing that he deserves his place in our team, and with the boost of confidence, hopefully should do well.
A rubbish pre-season doesn’t mean you will have a rubbish season but bagging a couple of poachers goals before the proper games start can’t do any harm.
It is not just the confidence it gives Owen but it also takes the pressure off. The press would have loved to see Owen limp off in his first game or go the entire pre-season without a goal, but so far, they have no reason to do anything but sing his and the manager’s praises. Long may that continue!