Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted that Michael Owen is now giving him a real problem. For the past seasons the striker has been part of the chorus line. Now the Manchester United manager is being forced into thinking that the 31-year-old deserves some star billing.
The problem for Ferguson is how to accommodate Owen when he is so spoilt for choice.
Wayne Rooney, naturally, is an automatic selection which, when the formation is 4-4-2, leaves one front line space left. Last season that place normally went to Javier Hernandez with Dimitar Berbatov next in line and Owen very much at the back of the queue.
Danny Welbeck’s return from his loan at Sunderland has complicated matters. In the injury absence of Chicharito at the start of this campaign he was a revelation alongside Rooney before damaging his hamstring.
Welbeck’s return, given the brilliance of Hernandez’ debut season and Berbatov’s refusal to accept he would be better off elsewhere, should have meant even less game time for Owen who, to the surprise of many, was given a new one-year contract in the summer.
Except Owen, clearly, has become far more of a factor than merely acting as a backup on the bench. Here are five reasons, some of which Ferguson himself must have considered, why Owen deserves the chance to become the star attraction he once was at Anfield.