Owen could be final part of the Stoke puzzle
On 30th June 1998, the world of football noticed a young striker called Michael Owen. His breathtaking goal for England v Argentina at the World Cup announced the arrival of a new football superstar.
The previous month, Stoke City ended their first season in the Britannia Stadium with a 5-2 home defeat to Manchester City, relegating them to the third tier of the English football.
And now, some 12-years and a Ballon D’Or later for Owen, he has signed for the Potters. When he scored that goal in France if you had to said to any Stoke fan that this brilliant player would one day wear the red and white they’d have choked on their oatcakes. It’s not every day that a former European Footballer of the Year signs for Stoke City – although the first winner was City’s own Sir Stanley Matthews, albeit a Blackpool player at the time – and so his signing has rightly pleased the majority of those in the Potteries.
Sure, there are big question marks over his injury record, but I think it’s a gamble worth taking. As a club, we turned down Demba Ba due to concerns over his fitness – I don’t think he’s missed many matches for West Ham and Newcastle United due to injuries, so perhaps Pulis doesn’t want to miss out again.
Owen’s Manchester United career is derided as being reduced to the fitness room and League Cup appearances. Nonetheless, Owen ended his time at Old Trafford with 17 goals in 52 games, including a winner in a thrilling Manchester derby – not too shabby really.
Owen, clearly, doesn’t have the pace he once had. He’s not going to be picking up passes, or throw ins (that’s all we score from after all), on the halfway line before bamboozling a couple of defenders and smashing the ball in. However, his finishing talent does not seem to have diminished. If there’s one thing Stoke do better than most it’s getting the ball into the opposition box as quickly as possible.
Our style of play naturally causes panic and scrambles in the box and Owen is exactly the type of player who the ball always seems to land to – and that’s just what Stoke missed last season – goals.
He might not get into the starting XI just yet – Peter Crouch is a guaranteed starter and Jon Walters has started the season incredibly well – a goal and an assist in the last outing versus Wigan. But as an impact sub, to begin win, Owen may well prove to be idea. And with Charlie Adam’s set piece skill, the prospect of the former Real Madrid man bagging 5-10 goals this season isn’t unthinkable.
And, with his debut likely to come versus Manchester City this weekend, who would bet against him marking his Britannia bow with a goal once again?