Crumpy Gunt Posted March 25, 2009 Share Posted March 25, 2009 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-1164499/ASH-WEDNESDAY-Magnificent-Michael-retire-Ordinary-Owen-free-transfer-flight-fancy.html These are the last words Michael Owen spoke as an England player: 'In terms of what he (Fabio Capello) is trying to do, you had better ask him. There are enough reasons to want to win for your country other than a new manager, but it is certainly another ingredient.' That was inside the Stade de France, shortly after a clearly irritated Owen came off the substitute's bench, when he replaced Wayne Rooney at half-time, in a half-baked friendly against the French. In 45 minutes he had made Zero Impact. Tomorrow, March 26, marks the first anniversary of his 89th and perhaps last appearance for England, a full calendar year since this 28-year-old striker was abandoned by Fabio Capello following a 1-0 friendly defeat. At first he was squeezed out of squads by players with a full Barclays Premier League season under their belts: Jermain Defoe, Alan Smith, Ashley Young, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Peter Crouch Emile Heskey. Fair enough. Now he is simply not under consideration. Not even ahead of Carlton Cole as England prepare for a friendly against Slovakia at Wembley on Saturday and a World Cup qualifier against Ukraine the following Wednesday. It is heading the same way with his club side Newcastle, where the evidence suggests that Owen is no longer a premium brand, no longer capable of scoring the goals that once helped Liverpool to win five trophies in a remarkable 12 month spell under Gerard Houllier. He was dropped from the Newcastle team to play Arsenal at St James' Park last Saturday, humiliated by coaches Chris Hughton and Colin Calderwood as the team predictably slipped into the relegation zone. The word is that legacy injuries to Owen's neck and to his back means that he cannot run properly, certainly not at full capacity or in full flight. He will never be the same player. Those darting runs, the days when he could skip past Jose Chamot and Roberto Ayala at the World Cup in 1998 are a thing of the past. He knows that. So does Capello. His popularity with his team-mates is also on the wane. There has been a cooling off in recent weeks, with some of Newcastle's players distancing themselves from a player who could still be key to their survival hopes. In the four years he has spent earning £125,000 a week at St James's Park he has never quite embraced the Geordie Nation, despite the remarkable reception at St James' Park when he signed from Real Madrid for £16m in 2005. Instead he flies into the training ground most days in his helicopter direct from his Manor House racing stables in Cheshire, back at home before his wife Louise is even back from the gallops. That yard is his passion, with millions of pounds invested in the thoroughbreds at the 160 acre farm that Owen hopes will one day compete with the great owners such as JP McManus and John Magnier. His reluctance to set up home in the north-east has been a source of frustration to his team-mates for some time, coming to a head when Owen returned to the Newcastle team from his latest injury for the 1-1 draw at Hull on March 14. Instead of riding the team bus back to Newcastle with his team-mates, Owen returned to Cheshire with Nicky Butt. There are mutterings of discontent among the players that the striker, once the most sought-after forward in world football, can come and go as he pleases, a free-spirit at a club in freefall. Despite captaining Newcastle in the past, he has little affinity with the area or its people, never buying into the Toon culture that served others, such as Kevin Keegan, so well in the past. Instead he will leave on a free transfer this summer, attempting to persuade Manchester City that his body can withstand 38 games in the Premier League and another ten or twenty or more in the Europa League, FA Cup and Carling Cup. Signs are that City are not interested, despite the best efforts of his agent to procure a move to an up-an-coming club. His supporters still champion his cause and they have every rightl to after an international career that has included 40 goals in 89 appearances. He very nearly rescued England in the Euro 2008 qualifiers when he scored goals in Tallinn against Estonia (3-0), Israel at Wembley (3-0) and Russia (3-0). Sadly, he missed the 3-2 defeat at Wembley against Croatia in November 2007 through injury (again), something that a succession of England coaches have become increasingly frustrated with since he made his debut against Chile in 1998. Between the ages of 17 and 25, when he returned from an aborted spell at Real Madrid, he played at the very highest level. Owen can look back on those eight years with immense pride, eight years at the very pinnacle of a demanding sport. It is more than most. He joined the greats in 2001 when he won the prestigious Ballon D'Or, becoming the European footballer of the year, engraving his name on to a trophy that also includes Marco van Basten, Roberto Baggio and Zinedine Zidane, the best of all. That elite group of players all went out at the top of their profession. Sadly for Owen he will never have that choice, no matter which new manager he has to impress. Never was interested in engaging the locals. Link to post Share on other sites More sharing options...
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