Michael Owen: Could he return to Liverpool?
Javier Hernandez scored the winner at Valencia, after coming on as a substitute, while Michael Owen warmed the bench. In the previous fixture to this, Owen came off the bench to score a superb header to equalise for Manchester United against Bolton. But still, Sir Alex Ferguson went for youngsters Hernandez and Macheda ahead of Owen.
Owen was given a start against Sunderland, but he failed to impress and was hooked off at halftime for Dimitar Berbatov. Sir Alex Ferguson has a lot of young strikers who are trying hard to establish themselves at United. Apart from Federico Macheda and Javier Hernandez, Danny Welbeck and Mame Biram Diouf are both on loan at Sunderland and Blackburn, respectively.
It is clear that Sir Alex Ferguson rates his young strikers, very highly, and sees Owen as only a stopgap replacement. Hernandez is seen as the next Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and he will be blooded into the side. Ferguson has been renowned for developing young talent, and in the near future, we can expect Macheda and Hernandez to get their chances in the absence of Dimitar Berbatov and Wayne Rooney. Besides, at times, he might also go for the single striker formation, with Rooney as the sole striker, which means even Berbatov might have to warm the bench.
The emergence of Hernandez and Macheda, surely, signals that Owen will get very less playing time. He should move on, and choose to move to a club where his talents will be utilized to good effect. Owen is one of the best strikers in this decade, and even though he has been hampered by injuries, and lost some of his brilliance, he can still be an asset and if his goals for United are any indication, he still has an eye for goal.
Gerard Houllier has made his intentions clear that he would like to sign Owen for Aston Villa. Even though Sir Alex Ferguson has insisted that Owen has an important role to play, it is probable that he will let Owen leave if he wants a move out of United. Owen excelled under Houllier, when both were at Liverpool, and it would present a good opportunity for him to revitalise his career. But if Liverpool come calling, Owen might fancy a move back to Merseyside.
Owen was a brilliant player for Liverpool, scoring more than 150 goals for the Reds, but he then moved to Real Madrid, which drew a lot of criticism from Liverpool supporters. He has not endured a happy time, in the footballing sense, ever since he left the Reds. He gave his all when he played for Liverpool, and my guess is that he will like to return to his former club, who have been on the transfer market for a striker.
Liverpool struggled in the last season, due to the injuries to Fernando Torres, and they do not have any proven performer in the squad to replace the Spaniard. Torres is a wonderful striker, but of late, he has succumbed to a number of injuries, and his workload must be reduced. His replacements are David Ngog and Ryan Babel, both of whom who have impressed on few occasions, but have a long way to go before they can be quality replacements for Torres.
Owen will come at a bargain price, and Liverpool are desperately in need of a striker. Liverpool will still need to sign a world-class striker even if they plan to sign Owen, but with the present scenario, Owen seems to be a good option if the ownership crisis is not resolved in January. Never mind the criticism, Roy Hodgson should be bold and try to sign Owen. After all, if Owen scores the winner against Manchester United at Anfield, it will only be celebrated.