Transfers that made a difference for Manchester United: Michael Owen

A controversial choice in our list, what with his history of the game and all. But for that goal against Manchester City in the Derby, Michael Owen makes the list.

Michael Owen started his footballing career in the Liverpool youth system. His reputation grew, and eventually, he made his first-team bow, scoring on his debut for the Scousers. He was a pivotal figure in helping them to win 3 trophies in 2000/01 (the UEFA Cup, FA Cup and League Cup) and his performances earned him the European Player of the Year award at the season’s climax. Soon, injuries were to take hold of Owen’s career. A recurring hamstring injury plagued him, and in 2003/04, he picked up an ankle injury in early October that forced him into three months out. Owen joined Real Madrid in 2004 for a free of £8 million. A year later he joined Newcastle United for £16.8 million. More injuries followed, a thigh injury saw him miss the beginning of the 2005/06 season. A broken metatarsal on New Years Eve 2005 and saw him out until April, making the World Cup squad, Owen was to crumble in the first minute of the group game against Sweden. It transpired he had damaged his anterior cruciate ligament in his knee. Owen played out until 2009, where he left on a free transfer, and this is where Manchester United come into it.

United Career

3rd July 2009 the news emerged that Michael Owen had signed a 2 year deal with the then Premier League Champions. It was a shock move, to say the least, but with there being no fee involved it was seen as a worthwhile gamble. Handed the number 7 shirt (though he is unlikely to ever make a list of greats in that shirt), Owen was to score on his debut in a preseason friendly against a Malaysian XI. He scored three more in preseason, leading United fans to believe the club had picked up a serious bargain. He made his league debut for the Red Devils in the game against Birmingham on the 16th August as a substitute in the 1-0 win. His first competitive goal followed 6 days later in the 5-0 thumping of Wigan Athletic at the JJB. Then came his crowning moment in a United shirt.

With the score deadlocked at 3-3 following a late Rio Ferdinand mistake allowed Craig Bellamy to bring Manchester City level. Deep into stoppage time, United got a free kick in front of the Stretford End. The first effort was weak but fell back at the feet of Wayne Rooney who popped it sideways to Ryan Giggs. Everyone in the stadium had seen Owen in acres, everyone including Giggs. With all the poise and grace of his young self Owen slipped home the winner and sent Old Trafford into raptures. His first goal at the Theatre of Dreams was to be one still talked about now.

Unfortunately, for the beleaguered striker, the was to be the pinnacle of his Manchester United career. Though goals still followed. One against Barnsley in the League Cup was backed up by his first Champions League goal in the 3-3 draw with CSKA Moscow. A hat-trick against Wolfsburg on the 8th December 2009 was his first since 2005, and on the 28th February, he scored in the 2-1 success over Aston Villa in the league. He was to limp out of that game in the 42nd minute with what looked like a minor injury, but it transpired he needed surgery on his hamstring and would miss the rest of the season. Owen would then play a bit part role as injuries started to dominate once more. A one-year extension at the end of the 2010/11 season saw him remain part of the playing staff, but he announced at the end of the 2011/112 season he would be departing Old Trafford.

With a total of 17 goals in 52 games, Owen can’t be seen as a total failure especially when considering no fee was paid for him. Though not legendary status, that goal against City will always have him held in some regard by the United faithful. Now if only he can sort his punditry out…


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