In Michael Owen’s 2004 autobiography ‘Off the record’ he was less than complimentary about Kevin Keegan’s management style. In the book he describes his time with Keegan as his England manager as a ‘dark phase’ in his career. “I really started to resent him – not as a man, but as a manager,” Owen wrote. He said the experience left him feeling scarred and without self belief.
So how we do we think Michael Owen felt when he heard that King Kev had been given the Newcastle United job? He can hardly approach Keegan and say, “Sorry Gaffer, I didn’t mean any of that, I think you’re a great manager.”
For a player whose career took off so spectacularly in 1997 for Liverpool, and then at the 1998 world cup for England as an eighteen year old, the last few years have been a nightmare. Owen must be beginning to believe that the football Gods are having some sort of joke with him.
The Chester born striker became a hero at Liverpool in the late nineties and early noughties. He scored a phenomenal 118 goals in 216 appearances. Before leaving Liverpool he began to struggle with injuries, particularly hamstring problems. He never played more than 35 games in a season for the club.
In 2004 he left his beloved Liverpool for the glamour of Real Madrid, becoming one of the famous galacticos. His career at Madrid started slowly, and although he managed a respectable 13 goals in 35 games for the Spanish club, he never really won over the fans or the staff. More top name signings arrived in the summer and it was clear that Owen would return to the premier league.
Newcastle United were the only club prepared to meet Madrid’s asking price for Owen, and he signed for them amidst massive rumours that he had wanted to return to Liverpool, and still hoped to do so.
Injuries continued to plague the unlucky striker, including a serious knee injury sustained on England duty during the 2006 World Cup. As a result of a constant stream of knocks and more serious problems, Owen only managed 11 games in his first season with The Magpies, 3 in his second, and 13 so far this season. In those twenty-seven games he has netted only nine times.
Now, still not fully recovered from injury, still not reaching the form of his past, struggling to justify his cost and reputation to the unforgiving Newcastle United fans, and without an honour in the game since winning the 2003 League Cup with Liverpool, Owen is faced with being managed by a manager that he has publicly slated.
All in all the twenty-eight year old forward could be forgiven for thinking that the world is against him. It would be a real shame to see the career of such a nice man and talented footballer fizzle away after the wonderful beginning he had. I believe that Owen is a fighter and that he can come through all this. Don’t bet against him being England’s top scorer in the 2010 World cup.