Is there any way back for Owen?

March 30, 2009

Quite how far Michael Owen’s career has nosedived was underlined at the weekend when the Newcastle United striker was again overlooked for his country despite the lack of attacking options for coach Fabio Capello.

Capello watched three of his squad strikers hobble off at Wembley on Saturday during the 4-0 friendly victory over Slovakia with Emile Heskey and Carlton Cole both ruled out of Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier against Ukraine.

With Peter Crouch also carrying a knock, surely the time had come for Capello to get on the telephone to Owen, a player with 40 goals in 89 appearances for his country and who was voted Europe’s best player in 2001.

Instead, Capello bluntly dismissed the case for Owen, saying he felt the striker was not playing well enough for his club. Capello turned to the much-maligned Darren Bent, a willing runner but hardly a finisher in the same class as Owen.

It is hard to see where Owen now fits into Capello’s plans. The Italian appears to favour a big target man playing in tandem with the versatile Wayne Rooney. Owen’s penalty area prowess is clearly not enough for Capello.

At 29, and after a series of injuries, Owen does not have the explosive pace that was once his trademark and he can look hesitant in front of goal. He has scored just once in his last 10 matches for relegation-haunted Newcastle and it is a year since he last played for England.

So is there any hope of an international return for the former Liverpool man? A move away from St James’ Park would be a first step but any journey back to the top of European football looks like being a long and painstaking one.

HAPPIER TIMES: Michael Owen poses alongside Fabio Capello at the launch of the England team’s new away kit, February 4, 2008. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

9 comments

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To be honest, I don’t think Owen will ever reach his top level again. He’s had some bad luck and the competition for becoming England’s striker(s) is fierce.

I don;t think he’ll ever get back the sort of pace that so terrified Argentina but he could still be good enough for a squad place or the next World Cup. Even if he were just a luxury substitute he would be good to have, the sort of player who is going to be cool enough to convert that sitter from five yards in the last minute.

Posted by jamesy | Report as abusive

I don’t think he’ll ever get back the sort of pace that so terrified argentina all those years ago but that’s not to see he won’t be good enough to play for England. He’d be a good squad player to have at the next World Cup, a luxury sustitute who would be cool enough to convert that chance in the last minute.

Posted by Jimbo | Report as abusive

I would’t write off a fomer European player of the year so quickly. A change of scene, a run without injuries and a couple of goals, he’ll be back in the squad as quick as you like.

Quite simply: No. Owen is a spent force and I would also have picked Bent ahead of him.

Posted by Red Devil | Report as abusive

Darren Bent is a decent footballer maybe, but he’s not in Owen’s class. You may be right that he is a better option for now but Owen back at even 80 percent or so would surely be a better bet.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

Kevin, I don’t think Owen will be half the player he was ever again. Unfortunately, because he was one of England’s finest strikers in recent history. Too many crippling injuries. I also disagree that Bent is not a good finisher, give him a run of games and you’ll see. Earlier this season, whe he was a regular starter for Spurs, the lad was scoring left, right and centre before Pavlyuchenko, Defoe and Keane arrived.

Posted by Red Devil | Report as abusive

Breaking news: Bent out of Wednesday’s game due to injury. Agnonlahor called up as a replacement. Crouchigoal to start up front.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

[...] to Source Tags: best player, coach fabio capello, Darren Bent, Eddie KeoghGo, Emile Heskey, England, england [...]

[...] Is there any way back for Owen? (Reuters) [...]

What a difference 12 months make. Hindsight huh?

Posted by FootballFan | Report as abusive