Friday, 3 July 2009

Owen and Benzema - some objectivity

The rage of United fans is almost palpable this morning. One day after being gazumped on Benzema by Real Madrid, we're almost certain to sign former Liverpool star and Real Madrid and Newcastle flop Michael "Sick Note" Owen.

Edit: Owen has completed his signing.

I am pleased about both of these events.

Benzema is no great loss at that price

Benzema first. He clearly has talent in abundance and has set the French league on fire. He scored a great goal against us. Pretty much everyone who's watched him thinks he has the potential to be a great player. At a stretch, in these bizarre counter-recession times, that makes him worth £25m and no more, but only at a stretch. £35m? £40m? Forget it.

Other players to have emerged as the "next great superstriker" from the French leagues include Didier Drogba and Djibril Cisse. The best that can be said of Cisse is that he gave us an irrefutable line of attack against Liverpool fans, whilst Drogba looked like a donkey for one season, a legend for the next and a moody clown ever since.

On top of that, Benzema's desire to play for Real is well known. What if he came to us, scored a hatful next season and spent the whole of next summer agitating for a £60m move to Real. Not that inconceivable a situation - and I would much prefer signing a player who views United as the peak and who would turn down more money from elsewhere to come to us (as Berbatov did).

I was never convinced we needed him or that he wanted us, so I'm really not that fussed. What does bother me, though, is the sentiment being bandied around that we should have matched Real's bid just because we have the money to do so.We have never operated like that, and rightly so, and anyone who thinks we should write a blank cheque for any player we fancy just because we can sounds a bit too much like a Chelski fan to me.

Finally, where would Benzema have played? At the top of a trio with Berba and Rooney behind him? That would be far too narrow, but I don't see any other alternative that doesn't involves Rooney playing out wide.


Scott has made his position pretty clear on Owen's signing already this morning, but I am in favour of the signing:

  • Yes, he's injury-prone, but whenever he is fit he scores goals at a good rate.
Injury-prone is the major footballing (as opposed to personal) reason why Owen is not a good signing. He has kept up with Louis Saha's rate of missing huge chunks of every season since a big money move. However, like Saha, when he is fit he is dangerous and scores a lot of goals. In 65 starts for Newcastle he scored 30 goals [edited - thanks!] , and also showed an interesting versatility which permitted him to create goals for others as well.
  • We are getting him for free and on a very modest wage
If we were paying £10m and £100k a week for Owen, I'd be against the signing - way too much to lose, and we could use the money better elsewhere. But for free and on £50k a week, there's very little downside for us. The worst case is that he's with us a year, barely starts any games and barely contributes - but the potential upside is a proven big-game goalscorer who still has the talents to trouble any defence on his day.
  • We only need him to start say 10-15 games, with more sub appearances, and even when he starts he'll probably only need to play 60 minutes
Other clubs (such as Blackburn) have rejected a possible move because he can't be guaranteed to play 30 games a season. We don't need him to do that - we need him to be a reserve striker, whose principal is to come on for 15 minutes and nick a goal, with the occasional start mixed in. Think of his role as the new Solskjaer or Sheringham - the type of player who, as I argued before, we needed to sign this summer alongside any bigger-money players. If you want proof of his ability to be an effective substitute, you have only to look at his performances for Real during their galacticos era.

  • He is desperate for a World Cup place, and therefore has a real incentive to rediscover his old form and a real point to prove
It was pretty obvious that he didn't care for a lot of the time that he was at Newcastle. But Capello's repeated snubbing of him has really brought out some fire again, and he looks like he is desperate to play for and succeed at a big club. We could really reap the benefit of that if he stays fit - he still has the potential to be a 20+ goals per season player.
  • Some of the negative attitudes surrounding him (such as the money-grabbing nature of his move to Newcastle and his loss of interest in football) are overplayed
One of the main criticisms levelled against Owen is that he took a big money move to Newcastle rather than wait for a bigger club. Firstly, when Owen went to Newcastle, they weren't the complete shower that they are now. Second, and more importantly, he hated Madrid (having never settled in either footballing or cultual and person terms), and would have taken any move back to England. However, since he came with a £15m price tag and £100k wages, none of the big clubs were interested - leaving a gap for Newcastle.

I have no doubt that Owen saw Newcastle as a stepping stone back to a top level English club. But his injuries have stopped him from making that next move, leaving him stuck at a club that he didn't love and who didn't love him. The loss of interest was understandable, and I'm not sure it was really his fault, particularly given the laughable chaos which was playing out around him.

Finally, yes, he played for Liverpool and talked their talk while he was there. Nothing can change that - but (call me disloyal if you want) that was many moons ago and I'm prepared to give him a chance.

Fergie has the gambler's instinct, and he's seen the potential upside. Let's join him in hoping the potential becomes reality.


Anthony said...

I'd be well chuffed if he scores 65 goals for us in 30 games!

In all honsesty, I totally agree with your article 100%. With the absolute lack of striking talent available at the right price, Mickey Owen is an ideal signing.

JLC said...

Also totally agree. My first instinct is anti-scouse, but there's much to like here. Well said Penguinissimo.

RedJack said...

27th June 2009 10.09 in response to the transfer targets mk43634 i suggested owen

i think it is a great idea on the contract we are giving him. Agree with all the points in this article

Im nipping off now to get a job on sky sports news - someone needs to tell them whats happening ha ha ha

Dan said...

Penguinissimo, mate

Nice post - a refreshing outlook on the signing compared to what is being said on other sites.

I must admit I wasn’t too keen when I heard the news. I’ve never really been a fan of Owen. Yes he’s got a good scoring ratio but for me he doesn’t have anything in his ‘locker’ (having just typed that, as long as he scores goals do we need him to do anything more?).

I wish the lad well and hope he gets a good pre season and stays injury free’ish over the course of our campaign.

RedJack said...

Has anyone heard anything about Kyle Naughton from Sheff Utd coming for around £7mill?

MoYa said...

I don't see us signing an extra midfielder. It seems we going to play a 4-4-2 next season and who would we drop out? I don't see Scholes, Ando Fletch, Hargo, Giggs, Carrick and Gibbo fighting with another class midfielder for only 2 spot...
Though I would love to see Toure, Melo or De Rossi... But it aint gonna happen.

I can see only another winger joining us and a couple of good prospects. Young would be excellent.

The one signing I absolutely want is Sergio Aguero. He would give us that extra edge and is highly versatile. With him we could effectively opporate in a number of formations. World Class player!

Anonymous said...

Im not confident for this season, we need three players asap.....Fergie was only messing yesterday on no more signings!!!
My three targets would be as follows: done in order of importance...
(1) Strong defensive midfielder - target Gattuso - why cos he would fit the bill as a short term fix as Scholes & Giggs are now one year older and he would help Anderson mature.
(2) Experienced dependable winger - Target Ashley Young, he has huge pace, scores goals, is english and also provides.
(3) Fast Paced Striker - Target Aguero/Eto either of these two strikers would give us the saha option of two years ago and would be different to what we would have already

If we produce these three players coupled with what we ahve already, i would feel we would have an even better and more importantly more balance squad than last season.

Thoughts Penguin?


Anonymous said...

the problem with that hightower, is that first of all you are looking at 10-15 mil for gattuso, 25mil for young, and 50 mil for Aguero. That would be all of our money from the Ronaldo deal and would not give us any flexability for any transfers in January or next summer.

Second problem is that we have a huge amount of young players who can/need to prove themselves and by adding 3 more established players they will not get the chance to do so.

I think SAF is using this year to see what he has in nani, anderson, da silva twins, welbeck, and Macheda, and will make his moves once he knows who can cut it and who cant. It is always good to keep your options open

I would love us to sign young but that is it, we need to see if Nani and Anderson have breakout years which I believe they will, also look for berbatov to net 20-25 with owen chipping in 15-20...I think we look great!

what do you think? Penguin

Anonymous said...

Nice read this.Are you still active? Would love to read more from you..

Manchester United Indonesia said...

Owen is the best. Glory Man United.

Messi said...

welcome to the club, Michael

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