Last week was certainly a great week for at least one Newcastle footballer and as we know Michael Owen seems back to his very best. His two opportunist goals in the first half on Wednesday night for England against Russia matched some of the great goals he has scored for England in the past.
Put away with excellent skill he looks to have come back with the predatory skills he has shown all his career.
And don’t believe talk about Michael having lost any speed. According to figures coming from the Newcastle training staff on Michael’s speed tests, he is as quick as ever.
Michael Owen – back to his world-class best? we think so
One thing our readers noted with his performances recently is that he looks a much better overall player these days. Not only has he not lost his predatory instincts but he can also set up the goals as he did for Rio Ferdinand on Wednesday evening. He also doesn’t give the ball away as much as he used to, always the sign of an experienced player.
Steve McClaren has talked about the man who has brought England back and they now have an excellent chance of European qualification for next year’s European Championships. Steve said:
“It is always a fear when someone has a long-term injury that they won’t come back as before,” “There has to be a doubt. You need to get over so many difficult barriers.â€“But it is the same with every player.”
“Adversity either kills you or makes you stronger. When you are out for such a long time, you get to appreciate every aspect of a footballer’s life.â€
“Michael has come back with renewed vigor and renewed motivation.â€ “The final barrier was, could he score? He can. He has answered everyone who has written him off.”
Emile Heskey excelled alongside Owen against both Israel and Russia but he will not be available for England’ next set of games having broken his metatarsal in yesterday’s Wigan game against Fulham. But it looks certain that McClaren will select another big man to play alongside Owen in those games.
McClaren to his credit kept Michael involved in the England set-up, inviting the former Liverpool star to training camps when he was injured:
“It is what you always want to do in those situations,” “We wanted to keep Michael in touch with our players. “He is important for us and it can be difficult when you are in the wilderness.”
“When you are in the gym on your own, you can easily get forgotten. Michael Owen was never forgotten.”
McClaren doesn’t think Owen has lost too much speed off the mark which saw him become a major star in the England – Argentina game in the 1998 World Cup. He was just 18 years old in that quarter final game and partnering Alan Shearer at the time. That’s when he scored that wonder goals for England in such an important match in which you may remember David Beckham was sent off.
“There is more maturity in his game,” “He knows what his job is, he knows what to do and he does it.â€
“He drops back and links play and, at times, he even becomes a defender for us. He still has a bit of pace as well, which he has demonstrated to everyone.”
But if anyone wonders why Michael gets so much publicity, it’s simply because he can score at any time and on Wednesday night had England 2-0 up when he dispatched two half chances superbly. You could see the lift it gave the rest of the team â€“ not to mention the England (and Newcastle) fans .
Steve went on:
“They were different goals and I don’t remember him doing that before,” “Michael is not just a six-yard man now. His game has evolved.â€ “He has always been a world-class striker and we have missed him.”
“He can be the difference between winning a game and drawing, or drawing a game and losing.“You can’t coach some of the things he does. The knack of being in the right place at the right time is something you are born with.”
Can he beat Ashington born and bred Bobby Charlton’s England goals record?
“Why not?” “As long as we keep creating chances for him. He is a great finisher.”
With Michael back to top form and now fully fit, we think he can help Newcastle finish high in the league. But it’s important that we keep Michael fit for the whole season, even if it means resting him now and again. Perhaps even at Derby on Monday evening. A fit Michael Owen can be worth an additional 10-15 points to Newcastle this season – he’s that good.
Comments very welcome.