Does Rafael Benitez Have Ulterior Motives in Re-Signing Michael Owen?

Barney CorkhillSenior Writer IDecember 4, 2008

With Newcastle hovering perilously close to the relegation zone, and off-the-field problems still ravaging the Tyneside club, speculation has started to grow over the future of their captain Michael Owen.

Clubs being linked with a move for the striker include his boyhood club Everton, Tottenham, and I've even heard Hull City mentioned, rather optimistically, perhaps.

One other club who have been mentioned, however, are Liverpool.

Now, as everyone knows, Liverpool are the team Michael Owen broke onto the scene with. He quickly became a fan favourite and then an Anfield legend. Much like one other player—Robbie Fowler.

Now, not too long after he became Liverpool manager, Benitez re-signed Robbie Fowler for Liverpool. Everyone was aware that Fowler was a shadow of his former self.

Why, then, did Benitez sign him? Well, it isn't likely to be for sentimental reasons, after all, Benitez has never really struck me as a sentimental type, and certainly wouldn't buy someone for those reasons.

Perhaps Benitez thought that a return to Liverpool would once again bring out the best in the man the Anfield faithful still call "God".

Personally, I think there was a little bit of selfishness involved in the transfer. I'm not saying this is the only reason, but I think Benitez thought he would bring Fowler back to the club because it would secure instant admiration from the fans. The man who brought God back to Anfield.

Obviously he still thought Fowler could do a job, but there were many strikers better than him within Liverpool's transfer budget, so perhaps the idea of instant cult hero status made his mind up for him.

Why would he need to do this? Well, he had just won the Champions League in the most dramatic fashion in his opening season. As well as being an obvious blessing, it placed huge pressure on Benitez's shoulders. The fans expected more, and thought the Champions League, the biggest prize in club football, would be just the beginning.

Fowler's signing, among other things, would have ensured Benitez stayed in the hearts of the fans even if they failed to win a trophy for the next five years. The pressure to reclaim the glory days had been lessened slightly.

I just wonder whether there is a similar element of this in the potential signing of Michael Owen.

As with Fowler, he is a shadow of the player who left Liverpool. The pace which made him so deadly has seemingly evaporated and, although he still possesses great finishing, he is rarely fit enough to string a good goal-scoring streak together.

Yes, he will still score goals when he is fit, but there are strikers out there who are less of a gamble and as good as Owen.

So could the Fowler element be coming into play? After all, Benitez has faced pressure from the board recently so the fans backing, particularly with contract talks ongoing, could prove vital in his future at the club.

What better way to do that than bring St. Michael back to the club?