Early Doors

Owen for broke

Early Doors

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"Would we be interested in him? No. Firstly,
his wages are too expensive. Then has he got the urge, the bottle and drive to
do what the Premier League wants you to do? It's
a big question." Dave Whelan, Wigan Athletic chairman.

"No,
not for me... I think that from my point of view, from being with him at Newcastle, it's always been the injury threat. I can ill-afford
to sign a player who's going to be
out the team," Sam Allardyce, Blackburn Rovers manager.

"Michael
Owen could be waiting a while if he expects anyone better than Hull or Stoke to express an interest."
Early Doors.

- - -

It
might not seem like it given the events of the last few weeks, but ED is forced
to admit that Manchester United are better than both Hull and Stoke.

And
so we enter the final part of ED's
trilogy laughing at United's summer
transfer dealings.

They
have lost Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez; they have missed out on Franck
Ribery and Karim Benzema. And now they are going to sign a player who, just
days ago, everyone was willing to chuck on the scrap heap.

If
City fans want to rub in their status as Manchester's coming force, they need only buy a job lot of United
weird red-and-black rugby league shirts and have Owen's
name printed on the back.

So
what on earth is Fergie thinking?

In
one sense, it is a risk-free signing. United need a poacher and Owen (pictured
at Chester
racecourse) is certainly that. He will be on a short-term contract, he will
have to take a massive pay cut and he will not be expected to start too many
games.

But
then Dele Adebola would have been a cheap striker who didn't start many games, but it doesn't mean that would have been a good idea.

Despite
playing 32 games, last season was arguably Owen's
worst.

Even
without the excuse of injuries he was simply dreadful. Having been singled out
by Alan Shearer as the man to keep Newcastle
in the Premier League, he played appallingly and was dropped.

He
even achieved the rare distinction of making his club's
fans glad to get shot of him on a free transfer, just four years after shelling
out a club record £16million for him.

In
a staggering show of disloyalty to a club that paid him £100,000 a week
throughout years of foot, knee and groin problems, Owen showed no interest in
discussing a new contract with Newcastle.

He
then found he was not in quite the demand he anticipated, and his management
company was reduced to supplying clubs with a now-infamous brochure in an
attempt to drum up interest.

Most
famous is the 'brand values' section in which the commercial benefits of signing
Owen are described in 21 almost universally ill-suited terms like 'Fit & Healthy',
Young', 'Devoted' and 'Dynamic'.

There
is also a spoof version circulating the internet, in which the corporate guff
is replaced with 'Bench warmer', 'Liability', 'One-paced', 'Ex-footballer' and a few containing language that would make 50
Cent blush.

The
sad part is, the gag phrases much more accurately represent Owen's current stock with the public.

ED's favourite part of the brochure is page 18, where
Owen's former doctor is deputised to
explain why Owen is not a crock.

John
Green BSc (Hons), MCSP, HPC might be a better doctor than House, Meredith Grey,
Doogie Howser MD and the smug one off Scrubs put together, but it is hard to
trust his assertion that the description Owen as injury-prone is "a
nonsense".

Dr
Green said: "I was asked to see Michael Owen by David James in 2006. I had
just rehabilitated Kieron Dyer from his hamstring problems. This culminated in Newcastle receiving £7m
for Kieron from West Ham United.

"Following
Michael's return from his cruciate
ligament injury under my guidance, I treated Damien Duff and Dean Ashton for
their respective foot and ankle fractures.

"I
also successfully treated Craig Bellamy following a long-standing groin problem
whilst he was at West Ham."

Yikes.
And is it weird that, despite all the injury wrecks that have been through Dr
Green's care, ED thinks the most
troubling thing is that it was David James who arranged Owen's treatment, not anyone at Newcastle?

Today's medical at United's
Carrington base is hotly-anticipated, but really, what could United find out
about Owen's fitness that they do
not already know?

Unless
his entire leg shatters when the doctor does the knee-jerk reflex test, there
is surely no physical defect left to discover on Owen. He has suffered every
injury in the book, except possibly scurvy.

Just
as United fans gamely denied that Cristiano Ronaldo was an odious twerp - until
he was sold - they will cling to a faint belief in Fergie's
track record and Owen's enduring
ability as a finisher. But deep down they will shudder every time the little
sod ambles on to the pitch.

- - -

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "We can confirm we have completely rejected an offer
from Manchester City for John Terry. It was made clear
to City, for a second time following an approach last season, that we would not
entertain any conversation on the subject. At the time John also reiterated his
total commitment to Chelsea.
We would like to make it clear, and will not do so again, that John is not for
sale." Chelsea dismiss interest in John Terry from City. ED thinks the Blues doth protest too much.

FOREIGN VIEW: Poor old Raul Albiol. A couple of days after
Kaka was rapturously acclaimed by 50,000 at the Bernabeu, Real Madrid's new £13 million defender - a Spain international,
no less - was presented in front of a few hundred people. The stadium could not
have been more sparsely populated if Dinara Safina had been playing a Wimbledon semi-final there.

COMING UP: Other than millions of Manchester United fans' breakfasts, you mean?

ED reckons this could be the day Murray-mania comes crashing
to a halt, but if we can have a three-hour women's
semi-final anything can happen. It's
Haas v Federer and Murray v Roddick from 13:00 UK time. It should be fun.

READ THIS: Following Schalk Burger's gouging non-apology, here are sport's top five unrepentant b******s.

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