Michael Owen starred in Manchester United's 3-0 victory over fierce rival Leeds last night. He was making his first appearance of the season for the Red Devils, a sorry state of affairs for a former Ballon d'Or winner.
The 31-year-old England veteran scored twice and looked lively throughout as he showed that he still has plenty to offer despite rarely featuring for the defending Premier League champions.
However, his future may not lie at Manchester United; a loan move away from Old Trafford might be a good idea.
Here are five reasons why that might just be the case.
The Carling Cup match against Leeds may have been Michael Owen's first appearance of the season, but the former Real Madrid man certainly showed he still has the instincts in and around the penalty area.
His second goal against Leeds was a stunner with impressive power given the short back-lift, and while his first goal may have been somewhat hooked, he showed excellent control and positioning to find room to get his shot off.
Owen was a threat throughout, and could easily have scored more; he had a shot deflected wide, just missing with a chipped effort.
The point is, Owen still has plenty to offer. Leeds may not be the greatest opposition, but Owen's ability was still very much evident. He could easily play an important role for many Premier League clubs this season and for a few to come.
Michael Owen's role at Manchester United has been very limited, and that is not going to change. As Sir Alex Ferguson told the BBC (still getting used to him talking to the Beeb!), due to the likes of Rooney, Hernandez and Berbatov "he is not getting the games he deserves and that is unfortunate."
Realistically, his position in the squad is not going to improve a great deal. Even if Dimitar Berbatov leaves, as has been rumoured, Danny Welbeck is the more likely player to get the role of backup striker. This would still leave Owen out in the cold, while Macheda is another rival who must be considered.
Owen would be guaranteed Premier League football week in, week out at most Premier League clubs. He has said, according to the BBC, that he has "years left."
Would it not, therefore, make sense to put those years to better use?
The Guardian reports that Michael Owen has said he would not like "to drop down to a poorer Premier League team" as he thinks he would get "less opportunities"(to score) and "less enjoyment," despite playing more regularly.
The thing is, he would not have to move down all that much. Given their current state of affairs, a loan to Arsenal (if United were willing) would be a move that would get him far more action with a squad that, for all the abuse they're taking, still has plenty of quality to it.
Sides challenging for Europa League places would certainly be more than happy to have him and they create plenty of chances, even against the best sides.
Celtic is another option. Owen recently stated on Twitter that he had been brought up with them as his Scottish team. And while the league is clearly not as good as the Premier League, they have Europa League football and he would play plenty of games.
Michael Owen's contract is up at the end of this season. Whether or not he is handed another deal remains to be seen. Either way, he is unlikely to remain at Manchester United for all that long. Players like Danny Welbeck and Kiko Macheda are only going to get better, and Ferguson cannot afford to give Owen opportunities that his potential future stars need.
This means that at some point, possibly in 2012, Owen is going to need a new club. If all he has done is score some goals in the Carling Cup, he is unlikely to be offered a deal by the sort of club he would like to play for.
A loan move could set up a permanent deal, either at the club he moves to on loan or one that is swayed by a good half season of form. A top side with fewer strikers than United may be interested if they see that his excellent goal to game ratio is not merely down to weak opposition.
There is a good portion of the media that would like to see Michael Owen back in the England squad. They pose a question that goes roughly like this; Who would you like coming off the bench when you need a goal: a) Jermain Defoe b) Jay Bothroyd c) Michael Owen?
I know that I would choose the man with 89 England caps and 40 England goals.
It is unlikely that Owen will ever be a regular starter for England again. He could well, however, be an incredibly useful resource to have in the squad; his experience could come in handy in tricky situations, and off the field, where he is regarded as a model professional.
Capello could be persuaded to pick him if he found regular first-team action, but he is not going to do so while sitting in the stands earning the Twitter nickname "benchwarmer."
Owen still has a few goals left in him, and England often find themselves in bad situations against teams they should be beating.
There is a proven man for the job.