It is tempting to call Michael Owen's
latest injury ironic or unlucky, but in reality it is neither. Getting injured
is what he has done his entire career, and having gone several months without
so much as a broken toenail, he was certainly due.
Owen limped out of Manchester United's
Champions League game against Wolfsburg
with a groin strain that will keep him out for around three weeks. He was
playing in front of Fabio Capello and it is thought a good performance would
have got him into the squad for England's last two World Cup qualifiers.
If the injury itself was merely a logical consequence of
being Michael Owen, irony fans will enjoy a report in this morning's Times pointing out that, despite suffering
problems in training on Sunday, the next day Owen took part in a penalty
demonstration with journalists as part of his sponsorship obligations.
He might have succeeded in sending Henry Winter the wrong
but at what cost to England's World Cup hopes?
Capello might not care too much as he has a faster, fitter
alternative in Jermain Defoe, but England's
final qualifiers against Ukraine and Belarus were tailor made for Owen; from an
English point of view they are little more than deluxe friendlies in which the
opposition are actually going to be trying - particularly Ukraine who will go
second ahead of Croatia if they win in Dnipropetrovsk.
to start Owen against Wolfsburg
was surprising, particularly as they knew Owen was struggling. Alex Ferguson
said last night:
"He felt his groin in training on Sunday and he trained
a little bit on Monday, had a rest on Tuesday and thought he was fine."
The last thing United want is an international recall for their fragile
striker, so in some ways it has worked out rather well. If Ferguson's name were Briatore, ED might just suspect him of
deliberately playing an unfit Owen to induce an injury and get him out of
While Fergie has gone to some lengths to get his players out
of internationals, ED is sure that even in his most Machiavellian moments, he
would not consider such a tactic.
When he had finished slotting pens past the assembled hacks,
Owen held forth on just how nerve-wracking it is to take part in a penalty
shoot-out at a major tournament. No need to worry about that any more.
He also came up with a baffling cross-sports analogy,
saying: "Football is getting like chess nowadays. One slip and it's checkmate or 'Right,
who's the best at penalties?'"
Early Doors fondly remembers the Garry Kasparov-Anatoly
Karpov epics of the 1980s, but struggles to recall in exactly how many matches
the chess board was put away and the players settled the match with kicks from
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defeat at home to Zurich
has put more pressure on their coach Leonardo, whose struggles provide further
proof that looks can deceive. The Brazilian seemed perfect for the Rossoneri's top job when Carlo Ancelotti left for Chelsea.
Not all great players are great managers. In fact, hardly
any of them are. But Leonardo seemed different, blessed with a character and
demeanour that seemed to guarantee success.
He has it all: He is a former Milan star who had been groomed for the job
as technical director. He speaks five languages, is stylish, eloquent, charming
and devilishly handsome. He could even tolerate the company of Ian Wright.
And yet it seems Milan
would be better off with someone like Gary Megson, who fits none of the above
From four home games this season, Milan
have scored just once (Bolton, meanwhile, have
rattled in six). More worryingly still, he was last night given the dreaded
vote of confidence from big cheese Adriano Galliani.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY: Fabio Aurelio reveals how Rafa Benitez lost his rag during
defeat to Fiorentina: "The
manager was really angry. I think that was the most annoyed we have ever seen
the manager. But we were all angry. We all felt like that after the first half
and I think that's why you saw a
better performance in the second. We didn't
need harsh words at half-time, we all knew that we were not playing well and
that we had to be much better. The manager was not the only one who was annoyed
FOREIGN VIEW: Souleymane Diawara's red card during Marseille's
Champions League defeat by Real Madrid completed a bad few days for the
Diawara was detained for a few hours in
Marseille on Monday night after being arrested for driving without a licence
but the Senegalese promised he would be up for a fight in Madrid.
"We are going to the Bernabeu to take at
least one point. We must not be impressed," he told L'Equipe on Wednesday.
Asked whether he had been impressed by any
player in the Champions League so far, Diawara answered: "No."
Real won 3-0.