Had his body been better suited to withstand the demands he has put on it, there’s little doubt that Michael Owen (32) would be with England at Euro 2012 right now. He isn’t though and he was never anywhere close to being considered. Three years of sitting on the Manchester United bench or lying on the Manchester United treatment table may have won him three trophies but it hasn’t enhanced his reputation.
The harsh truth is that he deserves little credit for the silverware. His contribution at Old Trafford was minimal. Having managed just one league appearance last season and not featuring at all since last November, few would have been surprised to hear him announce his retirement this summer.
Instead, having been released by Alex Ferguson, he’s staying in the Premier League. Such is his perceived value that, even after years of injury problems and few goals, he has had several offers to stay in the top tier.
But Everton boss David Moyes is being linked with the vacant White Hart Lane job, so if he packs his bags for London Town, Owen might be an option short.
Lord of the Manor
It may be because he likes Stoke’s style of play or Tony Pulis as a manager. It may also be because his beloved Manor House Stables is only 30 miles away from where he’ll be working.
Suggesting Owen prefers his horses to his football is certainly a piece of speculation but not necessarily of the wild variety. It’s no stretch to suggest that he sees football as a business. This is the man who had a 32 page brochure about himself made up and distributed to potential new clubs after being released by Newcastle.
Considering his massive early success, his disappointment at being unwanted at Real Madrid and his later injury problems, losing a little love for the game would be understandable. As is wanting to keep the pay-cheques coming in.
On race day the horses do all the running. Michael can stand and watch, enjoying the thrill of the sport without the risk of tearing a hamstring, or snapping some very necessary ligament.
Even if this speculative take on his situation is close to the mark, it’s not to say that Stoke will be getting a money-hungry renegade. Owen has always been a good professional.
Football may just be a job to him now but you can rely on the fact that he’ll still do what’s asked of him when he’s on the clock. The body may not always have been able but it be would be remiss to suggest the will was ever lacking. If he stays reasonably fit he’ll certainly make a positive contribution to Stoke’s cause.
At Manor House Stables, with trainer Tom Dascombe on board, Owen has a top class set-up which is promising to deliver big things in the future. Dascombe decided to work with Owen after he felt the “enthusiasm radiating from” the striker. It’s clear he has a passion for horses, one which possibly eclipses his passion for the beautiful game. Some might say that signing for Stoke would be the proof of that.
Playing for Stoke won’t deliver the success his Manor House Stables is likely to do in the years to come but for now it’ll pay the bills.