Owen Signs, and he’s no Henrik Larsson

It’s official. The sun hasn’t run out of hydrogen yet, most humans continue to work for a living, but Michael Owen somehow finds himself a Manchester United player.

To be honest, I’ve never felt so underwhelmed by a United signing when I first heard it. I’ve been intrigued by some of Fergie’s buys but never so underwhelmed as I have been with this one. What shocks me is the PR on full tilt on the official site. Yes, we know it’s the official site etc, but to publish a headline that went ‘Reds fans excited over Owen signing’ made my stomach curdle.

I was extremely mad yesterday when this Owen signing gathered pace and didn’t even know how to react. Today I have better control over my emotions and I might be able to string a few sentences together. But first, the manager reaction:

“Michael is a world class forward with a proven goalscoring record at the highest level and that has never been in question. Coming to Manchester United with the expectations that we have is something that Michael will relish.”

Yes, Owen would definitely relish it. He should be thanking his stars for being given a chance to redeem himself.

A free transfer is something one can hardly argue against. But we’ve had our trysts with injury prone players in the past with Saha, and Hargreaves now. I just wonder how Owen’s thigh, knee, groin, ankle, nose, eye will hold up. Our record with keeping injury prone players fit hasn’t exactly been a paragon in sports science excellence.

While describing Owen, one must be wary about his usage of tense. He was a world class centre forward. He was clinical. He was pacy. He is still a prick to a lot of fellow reds.

But he’s a United player now. I will always view this signing with scepticism until I see something on the pitch that changes my opinion otherwise. I would love to be proved wrong on this and he actually ends up rediscovering some of his past form. But he has a two year contract with us, and would be less demanding of a place on the first team. He will hopefully get a pay as you play contract on top of a modest weekly wage, and that should suit me just fine.

My main worry is this shouldn’t be viewed as a sign of desperation. Ferguson clearly wants his signings before the pre season. And that’s reflected by his need to get things out of the way in a hurry upon his return from holiday; we were in on the Benzema deal quickly to be fair whether we got him or not.

The main question will be whether he will persist with trying to buy another striker (and if so, why sign Owen then?) Or will he go for a winger or midfielder? These are questions I’m sure Ferguson will have to address if he wants his starting XI and formations sorted out before the season.

So I’m sorry, Manutd.com, I don’t currently share the excitement you seem to have gleaned from your messageboards. I may get excited if Owen actually stays fit for a few months in a row. Till then, I’ll wait to see if we have any more signings lined up.

120 Comments

  1. City have put in a huge offer for Terry and Real Madrid are possibly doing the same to Cashley Cole. Now what we must do is put in a huge offer for Michael Essien, say 35 or 40 million , and try to turn his head. Chelsea are on a downward spiral at the moment and he maybe tempted to join us. What is the harm in trying?
    In addition, we also need a left-back to replace Evra as he needs to be benched or sold.

  2. @nino, I completely agree that in general it’s best for clubs to do their business in the Summer, but in this instance we might avoid overpaying for Ronaldo’s true replacement(s) by putting a bit of time between our next buy and the Madrid transfer massacre.

    A real panic buy, imo, would be overpaying by twenty-thirty mil for a galactico calibre player.

  3. @Jay wire: Actually Scholes was a very good penalty taker. Missed less than Ronaldo, imho.

    But considering he will not play much…

  4. Why is anyone contemplating the bad side of Owen’s transfer. Do you know any proven goalscorer who doesnt give a shit if he is on the bench for 85 minutes. If he breakes his leg taking a piss what do we loose out of it… wages? Its not the end of the world. All i want to know is who the f*** we are gonna get to fill in the old bag of bones king of the world ryan giggs??
    Enlighten me

  5. this feels like a sick, twisted, demented joke. it was bad enough when we bought alan smith, but this is wrong on so many levels i can’t begin to dwell on it without another stiff drink. this is michael owen for god’s sake. the cute, cuddly version of beckham. i don’t care how many goals he scores he is liverpool’s waste. he is not and never will be United.
    if we really need an injury prone poacher i’d sooner we bring back somebody who is undeniably a true Red: Ruud.

  6. @Rd: Michale Owen is an excellent penalty taker and I know that Carrick and Hargreaves are also very good at taking them.

  7. @Anthony Los: Yes. After the injury in mid-season, his game has regressed to a great degree. He was responsible for many of the goals conceded. Moreover, he has become useless going forward too. A new left-back must be signed , or Fabio must be given his chance. Maybe we should go after Cissokho of Porto , who was immense in his first season at the Portuguese champions

  8. @RedDevilEddy: Mate, Anderson for Penalties!?!?!? He is the the least confident player when it comes to kicking the ball. In short, He is like School in July. i.e. No Class. 😆

  9. @Faizan: We have Delaet, he was bloody brilliant in the Hull away game for us. Fierce tackler, and has real pace and presence. He should be blooded and given more 1st teams opportunities this year in some games!

  10. it’s quite sad really. We should not be like some other club who scold and hate their stars when he leave Real madrid and now come to United. We should try to accept him. Owen is a good person, why not just give him a chance? Although i feel shock of this move, but i’m quite excited also by his arrival. In the past, we see him play so well, but recently he’s not but i’m quite happy for him to be playing again at the high flight and yet in my favourite club. Sir Alex Ferguson had been at this club for 23 years, many fans still can’t believe him and blame him for losing the plot and never have a plan b for selling Ronaldo and such. I mean everyone know Ronaldo is leaving so just let him go now and we get our money instead of letting him go on a free transfer. As for Benzema, a lot of people are sadden for Fergie fail to sign him. But for the whole time, Benzema is always going to Real Madrid in his mind so no point buying him now when his heart is not here. We want player that wants to play for this club and not players being forced to come. If not, we have another Ronaldo. A lot of people couldn’t think of this. It’s really a sad thing really. Lastly, no point buying expensive player. You think Fergie will buy a 45+m player? No way! He will use his money wisely to rebuild. So what if we didn’t have the best player in our team? We build our best player and not buy best player!

  11. Hi everyone,

    this is my first post on this forum, so please excuse possible grammar errors, because english is not my first language.

    Im not going to write my opinions regarding Michael Owen, actually i would like to post an interesting piece of article i have found on the ManUnited Official forum among the myriads of the “Please Sign Aguero” threads. It is called “Why have we never dominated Europe” and i think it is very well written and some very good points are being made there.
    So here it is:

    This is long post (sorry) but very informative (I hope) so please read all before commenting.

    We are supposedly the richest club in the world, we have the biggest fan base in the world and we are the most dominant team in what is widely regarded to be the toughest league in the world but yet we have never been able to stake claim to any period of sustained dominance in Europe. Even Nottingham Forest and Anderlect are able to do this with sound evidence to back their claim.

    There’s one of two ways to measure dominance in Europe: we can either look at the performance in the European Cup/UCL over a certain period of time or look at rankings based on 5 years statistics in major European and National Competitions – also known as the UEFA Coefficients.

    Let’s look at the 1st measure: Performance in the European Cup/UCL. Dominance is based on one or more of the following three criteria:
    1 Minimum twice winners within a period of 3 years
    2 Minimum twice winners and once Runner-up in a period of 5 Years
    3 Minimum thrice winners and twice Runners-up in a period of 7 years

    If these criteria are applied to the European Cup/UCL history, we get the following table:
    Period Dominant Club Years Won RU SF QF
    1956-1960 Real Madrid 5 5 0 0 0
    1961-1963 Benfica 3 2 1 0 0
    1964-1967 Internazionale 4 2 1 1 0
    1969-1973 Ajax 5 3 1 0 0
    1974-1976 Bayern Munich 3 3 0 0 0
    1977-1978 Liverpool 2 2 0 0 0
    1979-1980 Nottingham Forest 2 2 0 0 0
    1981-1985 Liverpool 5 2 1 0 2
    1986-1988 None 3
    1989-1995 AC Milan 7 3 2 0 1
    1996-1997 None 2
    1998-2002 Real Madrid 5 3 0 1 1
    2003-2007 AC Milan 5 2 1 1 1
    2008-2009 None 2

    As you can see only 8 teams can rightfully claim that they have actually dominated europe based on this measure. Had we beaten Barcelona in May then we could have claimed the 2008-2009 period. We could still do it if we win in the next 3 years but I fear that with the loss of Tevez and especially Ronaldo, we are back in a re-building phase and it is highly unlikely that we’ll even be challenging unless we get adequate replacements. Barcelona just need to reach the final next year and they will lay claim to this period based on criteria 2.

    Nottingham Forest’s claim is the bare minimum entry-level dominance. This brings us to levels of dominance. The following table is completely arbitrary but, nonetheless, I think most people would agree that the criteria for the levels are sound and acceptable:
    Level Criteria Teams that have achieved this level.
    1 National Champions Probably <500 in Europe, including Ipswich Town
    2 National Champions more than once Probably <250 in Europe, including Man City & Roma
    3 National Dominance (Short: 2-4 yrs) Probably <100 in Europe, including Chelsea & Aberdeen
    4 National Dominance (Long: 5+ yrs) Probably <50 in Europe, including Arsenal & Lyon
    5 National Dominance more than once Probably <25 in Europe, including Rangers & Anderlect
    6 Continental Champions 9 Clubs in Europe including Aston Villa & Celtic
    7 Continental Champions more than once 4 Clubs in Europe: Man Utd, Juventus, Porto & Barcelona
    8 Continental Dominance (Short: 2-4 yrs) 4 Clubs in Europe: Benfica, Inter, Munich & Nott Forest
    9 Continental Dominance (Long: 5+ yrs) 1 Club in Europe: Ajax
    10 Continental Dominance more than once 3 Clubs in Europe: Real Madrid, Liverpool & AC Milan

    We are currently at Level 7 on this scale and share it with some very big names. When SAF took over we were at Level 6. Nottingham Forest managed to jump from Level 1 to Level 8 which may be regarded as fluky, but look where Liverpool are! No matter how much we believe we are the best team in England/Europe/World/Universe in history, the fact of the matter is we are not! Liverpool fans will always point to their European record as they have not only dominated Europe but have done it in two separate periods. And this is not just what Liverpool fans think this is the probable consensus in Europe and the World. Even if we win 10 more EPL titles without reply from Liverpool, they will still be considered the best english team in history just like most people regard AC Milan better than Juventus despite Juve having 10 more national titles.

    Now let’s look at the other measure of dominance, the UEFA coefficients. The details of the criteria can be found in wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uefa_coefficients . This is the table of all the clubs that have been ranked no1 in Europe:
    Rank Club Years Ranked No 1 in Europe Total
    1 Real Madrid 1960-63; 1968; 1992-95; 2001-05 14
    2 Juventus 1986-88; 1991; 1997; 1999-2000 7
    3 Barcelona 1964; 1981-83; 2009 5
    3 Borussia Mönchengladbach 1975; 1977-80 5
    5 Benfica 1965-66; 1969 3
    5 Leeds United 1970-72 3
    5 Ajax 1973-74; 1996 3
    5 Bayern Munich 1976; 1989-90 3
    9 Liverpool 1984-85 2
    9 Milan 2006-07 2
    11 Real Zaragoza 1967 1
    11 Anderlecht 1986 1
    11 Paris Saint-Germain 1998 1
    11 Chelsea 2008 1

    I think this is a less acceptable but more accurate method of determining dominance as it takes into account the performance of the club in all major competitions in the previous 5 years. There are some surprising clubs in this table: look at Chelsea, Leeds United and even Anderlecht! Real Madrid are, not surprisingly, way ahead in terms of total number of years but one thing I want to point out is how much Juventus and Barcelona feature in this table. Remember they are on the same level as us on the previous table but because of this perceived dominance they are regarded higher than us in Europe. Basically, we are essentially almost identical to Porto from the european point of view: how we regard Porto is how most of Europe regard us.

    Why is dominating europe important?

    Assuming all other factors to be equal, why did Benzema choose Real Madrid over us or Torres choose Liverpool over us or Ronaldinho choose AC Milan over Man City? The answer is SUCCESS BREEDS SUCCESS. These clubs were dominating europe while these players were growing up, they have a clear perception of the difference between the clubs. Because of their historic success and dominance they are attracting the best talents from Europe and the world and breeding more success!

    So why have we never dominated Europe despite our wealth, fanbase and national dominance?

    I am acutely aware of how sensitive some people on this forum are at any hint of criticism towards SAF, the board and the players so I will steer clear of any direct implications. But the buck has to stop somewhere. Where has all the money from almost 2 decades of complete national dominance gone to? Why has it not been invested to strengthen our team and consolidate our european wins in 1999 and 2008? All too often we seem to dither and haggle over deals and either lose out on great players or pay too much on average ones. The secret of Success is thinking BIG. Dithering and haggling is not thinking big. Buying average players and has-beens does not show any intention to dominate Europe. Despite what you might think of Real Madrid’s current spending spree, they are thinking big and, I believe, their business model is sound. They will recoup their investments via global branding and merchandising the images of the players while having a damn good go at dominating europe with these superstars in the next 2-5 years – effectively for free, and sowing the seeds of yet more success.

    If we want to have any chance of attracting future Ronaldos or Benzemas 10 or 20 years down the line, then we have to think big and buy big with the intention to dominate europe for a sustained period. And it has to happen right now because SAF is not going to be around for too much longer.

    So what is your opinion on this matter? Do you agree or not?

    I hope by copy/pasting it here i did not violated any rights of the original poster i am not aware of. If it´s that case, please feel free to ignore/delete my post entirely.

  12. that is a truly fucking amazing peace mate. I completely agree with you on that matter, and i alos have been frustrated but i tink ive said it many a time, everything ends up all good for united and it wont change this time

  13. On the “underwhelmed” topic – perhaps we could have a league of some kind for least whelming signings ever: those that made your heart skip no beat, even slow down to near-death when you heard them.

    For me Owen is middling but not the worst (he came free, no reason to think he won’t score more than Tevez last season, he has all the motivation in the world etc.) *IF* this proves to be it s regards summer signings (unknown at present) then my ehelm factor would lessen further. At present, though, don’t think the (redeemed? we’ll see) dipper can compete with, e.g.

    Peter Barnes (1985)
    Terry Gibson (1986)
    Jordi Cruyff (1996)
    Laurent Blanc (2002)

    Not saying these were all catastrophic signings (though they mostly were), just that *in context* (e.g. Blanc: “replacing” Jaap; Gibson: “saving” United’s 85-86 title campaign; Cruyff: waiting – and waiting – for a Big Signing post Euro 96; etc.) they were a sodding great letdown. Owen’s certainly up for a place in this pantheon IMHO, hope I’m wrong.

    Any other candidates?

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