Monday, 15 December 2008

Keeping Owen is out of Newcastle's hands

Michael Owen's given notice to the jeering doubters that he's still a force to be reckoned with. Three goals in two games issues a heads up to Newcastle and a clutch of Premier League suitors that he'll bag the goals to make a critical difference as the season reaches a climax.

It's the manner of the marksman's return to form, co-inciding with his 29th birthday that's caught my eye. Form and match fitness go hand-in-hand and it's been a while since he's looked so comfortable in his body.

There's that niggle as to how injury prone he is but judging from the last few games, the chances of setback have receded.
Newcastle have had the temerity to offer him a new contract on reduced terms. Reward for 9 goals in 10 starts this season. Who'd stick round there? Newcastle are having a laugh.
At the right club, Owen would restore himself to the glister of his best Liverpool and England days. It's just a shame for Joe Kinnear that the club is run by a bunch of oyks who've gone Absent Without Leave.
But for the professionalism and commitment of Kinnear and his squad, Newcastle United would be in freefall. Kinnear may prevent the board hanging Owen out For Sale in the January Transfer Window like bored babysitter, Michael Jackson.
But with his contract up at the end of the season, Owen's perilously close to leaving on a Bosman, or with a transfer discount so massive even Woolies would be left shrugging their shoulders.
Every board knows post-Bosman you've got to open talks with the player 18-months before the contract finishes. Newcastle's non-existent board are in such a state of inertia, the longer it's left the better it gets for Owen.
Make no mistake, Owen should plot the rest of his career now. He should pull the emergency cord and flee Newcastle faster than Ant and Dec did when London Telly called.
So who should sign him? Well, there's probably a case for most of the Premier League - but Spurs, Villa, Everton, Chelsea, Wigan and Stoke should be up for capturing what would be the biggest bargain this decade.
Signing a player like Owen is always a dramatic gesture. It was Graeme Souness and Terry McDermott who pulled off the coup to bring him home from Real Madrid. This time, the fanfare may be a few decibels lower, but to quote the England striker the day he signed at St James' Park, "...the one thing I can guarantee the fans is goals". Matchfit and facing big opposition, Owen will deliver.