I think it’s safe to say that this caught everyone off guard. But as Madrid’s spending spree has driven prices up across the continent, there were really not many viable options left (Benzema, Aguero, Ribery etc. are not worth £30+ million). But let us say that hypothetically, they were worth the cash. Would it be smart for United to spend big on young players unproven in the league? Wouldn’t Sir Alex have the exact same problem he had last year with Tevez and Berbatov? Nonetheless, most people have recovered from the initial shock to ridicule Fergie and to take a shot at United. How desperate do United have to be to take a chance on Owen – the has-been striker whose career has been ravaged by injuries since his departure from Liverpool? Surely Fergie’s gone a little senile in his old age? Many have also commented on the lack of top-quality players who want to sign for United. Is this the beginning of the end? You can find a host of additional hypothetical jibes at various sites, but here’s a nice collection so that you can get a feel for what rival fans are thinking.
I think the most important part of this deal is that United aren’t paying Newcastle anything, as his contract is up. In addition, he’ll receive a very basic wage – a fraction of the reported £120,000 per week he earned while on the treatment table at Tyneside. However, he will also get bonuses for appearances, goals scored, and results. With this pay-package, United is really in a no-lose situation. They’ve got him on a free, and are offering add-ons which give him incentives to play well. Why not take this gamble? There is nothing to lose.
In addition to the bonuses, I think that the upcoming World Cup will make Owen even more determined to recapture his form. This is his last chance to prove he belongs in the squad, and if he can play well with Rooney, he’s certainly in with a shout – especially as England (and Manchcester United for that matter) lack a real striker/poacher.
His history with injuries is a little worrying. However, he did pass a stringent medical and his injuries may well and truly be behind him. In addition, he was grossly mis-managed at Newcastle, as he was forced to prematurely return from injury on multiple occasions.
I think the prospect of Owen providing backup support for Berbatov and Rooney is an exciting one. 20 minutes left in a game, why not throw him on? He may have lost some of the pace that made him famous, but his finishing touch is still there. He had the best goals per minute ratio at Madrid, and scored 30 goals in 79 matches for the Magpies over 4 years (that’s .4 goals per game for those of you keeping score).
Now imagine him in a team where he’ll actually get some decent service, and who knows what could happen? If he turns out anything like Solskjaer, Larsson, or Sherringham, it will be a great bit of business. And if nothing else, he’ll be a great influence on youngsters Macheda and Welbeck.
Sure, it’s a risk, but I think it’s definitely one United should take.