The idea of Manchester United signing Michael Owen would have been insane a week ago. Now that the deal has been completed, it’s not just the fans who are coming around to the idea, but the press as well, who would all love to slate Ferguson for losing the plot… but are struggling to find grounds.
The Times: HIT
There is a method in Ferguson’s disregard for the logic that warned off some of his managerial counterparts. At worst, even if it all goes Shevchenko-shaped, the Scot will be viewed as having given a player once regarded as Old Faithful in terms of his goal-scoring consistency the chance to gush once more.
If those stringent medicals failed to detect the true extent of Owen’s physical limitations, the parties can ultimately shake hands and part without rancour. Under Owen’s two-year contract, with an option for a third, on a no-play-only-basic-fee arrangement, there are no losers.
Not so long ago — in fact, immediately after the friendly against Brazil in 2007, Owen’s reappearance for England that followed injury in the 2006 World Cup — he retorted that it was “pathetic” to ask whether he still had goals in him. That was an astonishingly un-Owen-like response from a character who hitherto had never knowingly uttered a word out of turn. It was also confirmation of his belief in his prowess at the highest level, which extends to this day. A belief into which Ferguson, in his wisdom, has tapped.
The Guardian: MAYBE
Owen, if the move works out, would restore the opportunism that has largely gone missing since Solskjaer conceded that he could not overcome his knee problems. For all the efforts of the departed Cristiano Ronaldo, United do not score as freely as they once did. They hit 68 goals in the Premier League last season; the corresponding figure for 2007-08 was 80. Ferguson’s team has become more effective in the Champions League by taking fewer risks but ebullience could be permitted on other fronts.
Ferguson could continue to use Rooney towards the left, even if the player would rather be in the middle, and employ, say, Dimitar Berbatov to prompt Owen in United’s 4-2-3-1 system. That, however, assumes that the newcomer will have a key role.
It may turn out that there is to be no such status for Owen. If he is to be a lone striker, which seems inevitable now that 4-4-2 is all but extinct, he will probably flourish only against weaker clubs when United, as they dominate, get many players forward to support him.
In the tense and tactical contests he could, like Solskjaer, be a specialist substitute who can winkle out a goal. That may be a step down for someone so renowned in his youth but it would constitute a renaissance after four years of decline at Newcastle.
The Daily Mail: HIT
For everybody, this is a move that works. For Michael Owen, for Sir Alex Ferguson, for Fabio Capello, for Wayne Rooney, for Manchester United, for England. There is no loser here because it is a gamble that the club can well afford.
If it comes off, there are dividends never previously imagined; if it does not, all sides are merely back where they started.
The worst that can happen is that Manchester United do not win a fourth title but, having lost Cristiano Ronaldo, the player that provided the bulk of their goals, it could well have worked out like that anyway. Certainly, Ferguson will see this acquisition as one that gives him a greater chance, rather than the raising of the flag of surrender.
Owen scored 23 goals in 62 games in a poor Newcastle team, at a ratio of one every 2.69 games. Tevez scored 34 in 99 games in a magnificent Manchester United team, a rate of 2.97. Last season, his ratio was 3.4.
it makes sense all round that Owen should sign for Manchester United. And it proves one more thing. That the daft brochure hawking a great player like he was a new line at Boden’s remains one of the most misguided, chuckleheaded events in the field of sports management. The best advertisement for Owen was always the player, not the image or the brand. He scores goals. Lots of goals. And a good judge like Ferguson was never in need of a catalogue to remind him.
The Independent: HIT
The idea that Sir Alex Ferguson’s investment in Michael Owen is the desperate throw of a football man looking into the skull’s head of a bleak and hopeless future is absurd. Owen was available at a knock-down price. No doubt he is not what he was, which is to say the most electrifying scoring talent in the world, but he still knows where the goal is far more acutely than many of his rivals in a grossly inflated market.