This was supposed to be the season Michael Owen reminded everyone of his talents. But what has happened to the former England international since his free transfer move to Stoke City in the summer?
The cynics out there will say they are not surprised in the slightest by the striker’s renewed injury problems and the fact we have seen and heard him as a pundit on TV and radio far more than he has turned out for the Potters tells you all you need to know about his lack of action this season.
Owen was signed by stoke boss Tony Pulis after the manager carefully took his time to weigh up the pros and cons of what was definitely a risky deal. After all, this is a player – if we can use that word to describe him – who has barely been on a football pitch for the past 18 months. Following his inevitable release from Manchester United, Owen was telling anyone who would listen that he was fighting fit and determined to prove the doubters wrong at his next club.
However, we are now well into the campaign and it hasn’t worked out like that at all. Instead it has been the same old story for the former Liverpool, Real Madrid and Newcastle forward, as he first battled to improve his match fitness before then being struck down with several niggling problems – most notably a recurrence of a hamstring injury which has plagued him on and off since his days at Anfield.
Owen, who turns 33 in December, still insists he is fit and, after a friendly run out recently, he tweeted to declare just how good a shape he is in, going as far as saying he “was raring to go” for Stoke. Sadly, his enthusiasm to lead the line at the Britannia Stadium was swiftly dampened when his boss emphatically declared he needed at least a fortnight’s more training at a consistent level of fitness to ensure he did not break down injured again.
There is a familiar pattern to all of this with Owen continuing to self-promote himself only to find managers – and injuries
that he often seems to forget about – blocking his path back to the pitch. Owen famously once declared a few years ago that
he had been injury-free for over 12 months. The problem was, he still wasn’t playing.
There is no doubt, if fully fit, that Owen can probably still cut it with the best goal-poachers in the Premier League, even if his
best days are now behind him. But, despite his self-confidence seemingly knowing no bounds, the facts speak for themselves.
Remember, this is a man who has managed a paltry 53 minutes in the top flight this season – all when coming off the bench and none since the end of October.
Unfortunately for Owen, Pulis and the patient Potters fans desperate to see him back to his devastating best, that poor on-pitch record does not look like improving any time soon.
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