Some footballing headlines are just so unfathomably inevitable that they may as well remain unreported, with the masses left to just assume that Occam was right about his razor and that parsimony has indeed prevailed.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that, despite being pencilled in to return to action against Wolves in the Carling Cup last night, Manchester United striker Michael Owen was forced to pull out of proceedings after feeling his warm-chocolate hamstrings ping yet again during a training session the day before.
Owen had been sidelined since October 2nd, when he limped out of United’s Premier League stalemate with Sunderland at the interval after suffering a groin strain late in the first half.
Speaking to BBC Radio Five Live, Owen regaled the details of his latest setback:
“I had a tight groin quite a while ago and then I trained for a week in preparing for last night’s game (against Wolves), but had a setback in training with a different muscle injury, so unfortunately that ruled me out for last night and is going to rule me out for a few weeks as well.”
Owen rolled home United’s equaliser in last season’s 2-1 Carling Cup final victory over Aston Villa back in February of this year, before aggravating an existing hamstring injury (giving way to Wayne Rooney, who duly went on to notch the winner) which duly ruled him out for the rest of the season.
He then started in the Community Shield match six months later, going on to make a further six appearances for United this term, scoring three goals in the process, before the injury at Sunderland served to yet again curtail his gathering momentum.
Despite the staccato rhythm that his career now seems to have undertaken, 30-year-old Owen also insisted to Five Live that he is much more content to collect his considerable wages on the physio’s table at Carrington take a cameo role at a club challenging for trophies on several fronts than move to a relatively smaller club where first-team opportunities may be a little more prevalent:
“I’ve played in some of the biggest clubs in the world over my career and I’ve had not such a good time at certain clubs where I’ve been in the relegation zone struggling away.
Training with top players every day, being among the elite players is what I enjoy doing more.
And if that means not playing as much but playing in a good team with good players creating chances, then I’d prefer to do that than slog away every week and hardly get a touch of the ball.”
Which says it all really. The fact that 22 of his 37 appearances since joining United in 2009 have been as a substitute just serves to highlight the fact that Owen is never going to be the player he once was (indeed, he was crowned Footballer of the Year back in 2001), and it seems that it is only his trophy-lusting ego that is keeping him going.
With the recent fruition of a certain ‘little pea’ at Old Trafford, it seems that United have an adept (and much more supple) replacement waiting in the wings.
Whereas the predatory instincts and finishing capabilities of old may still be there, Owen’s body has been repeatedly sending him unignorable signs for the last four or five years and all good soldiers should really know when their war is over.