Super-sub in the making?
The willingness to sign Michael Owen makes Sir Alex Ferguson look as much a collector as a manager. There might already be a cabinet reserved in some museum of football for a player who is just 29. Indeed, it is the throwback quality that makes him valuable to Manchester United. Large as it is, the Old Trafford squad has not contained a proven poacher since Ruud van Nistelrooy was sold to Real Madrid and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s career drew to a close.
Few top-level clubs have such a figure. Hardly anyone else fits that description in the Premier League, other than Jermain Defoe at Tottenham. United must sense the continuing value of these specialists, despite tactical systems that leave scant room for them nowadays. In April Federico Macheda’s two goals for the club to date turned impending draws into victories against Sunderland and Aston Villa.
It adds to the burgeoning lore of the Italian to treat those strikes as if they alone had delivered the four-point margin by which United retained the title. Macheda is a mere 17 but there was a reminder there that goalmouth experts can never be wholly obsolete. He may be too young to prosper week after week but Ferguson would like to have a predator on hand who is fully equipped. The question now is whether Owen can continue to meet that description. His irrelevance in the closing weeks of last season was alarming. (The Guardian)
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It’s an interesting parallel, and there is no doubt that Owen will find himself warming the bench for long periods of the season, but rather than being a Carling Cup starter he can be used to great effect as a last 15 minute cameo where his burst of pace (and he still does possess this) could well give Sir Alex a good option to draw open at the tail end of closely fought games.
It is precisely this type of usage that Fabio Capello could well consider the former Newcastle man as most effective if he were to make it back into the England fold for the World Cup in South Africa next Summer.