Sunday, 14 April 2013

Michael Owen Would Have Played On If Stoke Had Not Snubbed Him, Says Ferguson

Alex Ferguson reckons Michael Owen might have fancied another season in the game if Stoke had not left him bored on the bench.

Former England striker Owen headed to the Potters in the summer after failing to win a new deal at Manchester United.

But he is yet to start a Premier League game for Tony Pulis' side in a campaign ruined by the recurring hamstring problems that have dogged his career.

And after a hellish ten months sat on the sidelines rather than chasing Premier League goals, Owen has called it quits to focus on his work as a horse racing owner.

It's a decision Fergie can understand even though he feels the 33-year-old still has plenty to offer.

The Reds boss said: "I think he will be frustrated with not playing regular football and that has brought about his decision to concentrate on his racing.

"Players today can play until they are 35 and we have many examples of that at this club, and there are other examples like Frank Lampard. In the game now people can play well into their thirties.

"I think he is also frustrated by the fact the number of injuries he has had. That has accelerated his decision on that."

Ferguson felt he had pulled off something of a coup when he grabbed Owen on a free transfer in the summer of 2009.

Newcastle had spent £16m securing the striker's services four years earlier - although injuries ruined his stint at St James' Park.

The one-time boy wonder failed to force his way into the Reds line-up though and made just six Premier League starts.

Most of his appearances came from the bench, including a famous cameo where he scored the stoppage time derby winner in the 4-3 victory over City in September 2009.

It was his ability to snatch dramatic late goals that kept him in Ferguson's good books through the times when injuries hampered his chances of playing.

"There was always something about Michael," Fergie added. "You found it hard to leave him out if he was fit, as a sub even.

"There was no-one better than Michael if you wanted to get a goal at the end of a match or create a chance out of nothing.

"That was the case in point of when I left Dimitar Berbatov out of the European final against Barcelona in 2011.

"I looked at my subs and thought if I was a goal down with a minute to go, who would I depend on better, Berba or Michael. Michael won hands down, no doubt about that.

"I thought he was a fantastic footballer, I really did. He was unlucky. He was one of these players that comes along from time that was beset by injuries. He was not soft or anything 
like that.

"He just had recurring hamstring problems all his career and I think that if he had not have had those injuries, god knows what goal total he would have had. He was a really fantastic footballer."

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