THE MIDLANDER: Michael Owen to Aston Villa - a perfect fit?

28 January 2009 12:29
'Michael Owen wouldn't come to Villa', was the reaction of one of my media  colleagues when Martin O'Neill was asked about the striker last week.

Eh? Are you sure?

Now, at the point of writing, I don't know whether O'Neill will be a) angry b) not bothered c) secretly happy or d) think it typical of the salacious national press following the way in which the majority of my rivals and friends reported his press conference last week.

(For the record, that will result in either a) a rollicking b) a shrug of the shoulders c) sarcasm or d) a mixture of all three when we next come face-to-face).

Eye opener: Michael Owen's goals for Newcastle have cost £1m each

 All Martin O'Neill has to do is work out the transfer market - the rest of us have to work out the Villa boss

THE MIDLANDER: With Villa breaking into the top four . what next for O'Neill and Barry?

THE MIDLANDER: It's the life of Brian Clough for Martin O'Neill at Aston Villa as other bosses sweat over job descriptions



But let's make one thing clear - Michael Owen will not be doing Martin O'Neill any sort of favour if he pitches up at Villa Park.

For pity's sake, it's the other way around.

Let's face it. His methods may be unconventional, but O'Neill is a class act. And he's going to build something special at Villa Park. Mark my words. (Next prediction: Gareth Barry will sign a new deal. Watch this space).

So, what right-minded, English footballer would NOT want to be part of the squad that the Irishman is putting together?

Let's consider the facts for a moment.

Owen is 29 years old. His major asset was his speed. His injury record is patchy at least. He's being paid a reported £5.2m-a-year in wages.However - and this is a fairly big counterpoint - his goals record remains excellent. Thirty in 51 starts ahead of Wednesday night's game at Manchester City.

Not bad - given what is the poorest Newcastle team since the club re-invented itself first time around under King Kev.But just 51 starts since he signed in the summer of 2005 is poor. Never mind the fact that his Tyneside career that his been blighted by serious knee problems. Nor the fact  that his speed at the age of 29 isn't going to be what it was ten years previously.

Of course, players will say that it's not their fault they were injured.

No, it's not, but these days bean-counters look at goals-per-pound, rather than  goals-per-game and the latest estimates work out that Owen's have come at  £1m-a-pop.

Building something special: Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill

But if Villa reach the top four (and I'll tell you this much if they can keep  going for another month people will be talking about them as genuine title contenders, never mind Champions League hopefuls) where else is Owen going to receive that kind of offer?

Villa could offset his estimated £110,00-per-week wages by throwing a huge  signing-on fee at him - and then bringing his basic wage in line with the structure O'Neill has already put into place.He lives just over the other side of the English border. With the M42 toll road, he'd be at the Bodymoor Heath training ground in 75 minutes from his home.And, it would be the perfect preparation for a World Cup year in which, you suspect, Owen might like to participate. Well, given the fact that one of the  reasons for joining Newcastle in the first place was that he was fit for Germany in 2006, that's a given.For Villa's part, he would be re-united with Emile Heskey - Owen scored 30  goals for Liverpool in their first season together - and Villa would have a genuine goal-poacher of quality. As long as they could get him on the pitch.It would keep Gabby Agbonlahor on his toes and create real competition for places up front.Now, I don't know at this moment whether Villa will end up signing Michael Owen, or not.But if he wants the chance to re-ignite his career again, Villa Park should be near the top of his wish-list.

Usual routine: West Brom concede from a corner as Nemanja Vidic (left) heads home Manchester United's third goal in the 5-0 rout

You have been warned.Let me make my position on this next issue quite clear: I have a lot of time for Tony Mowbray's footballing philosophy.I admire his determination to stick to his beliefs. I respect the criteria he uses to bring in players. His outlook on football, West Brom's position in the pecking order and how the club can advance, all make perfect sense.But I cannot understand for the life of me how he cannot organise his teams to defend set-pieces. It is actually nearing the point of boredom writing how the Baggies have conceded - yet again - from corners.I know the opposition were Manchester United on Tuesday night. But to hand two goals to them on a plate - one courtesy of an almighty Scott Carson clanger, admittedly - is just madness.Play your way up the pitch if you want, but please, please organise your defence.Because as the season reaches it's climax you are going to let one in that really hurts.And you can't say you haven't been warned.

Final thought.(And I know I'm being bloody-minded here, but bear with me). Wilson Palacios isn't signed by Birmingham City, apparently because the  £220,000 transfer fee needed to sign him could be put to better use elsewhere. (Like installing undersoil heating. Sorry. Cheap shot).

So, Birmingham end up being relegated by one point - perhaps the difference a  £14m midfielder might have made with an odd goal here and there. 

That's a £14m fee plus £50m in associated revenue. For another season in the Premier League, plus parachute payments, associated commercial spin-offs,  increased season-ticket revenues etc.

That's £64m less £220,000, which makes it a £63,780,000 loss. Like I said, I know I'm being bloody-minded.But Karren Brady is nobody's fool. She did the maths.

No wonder she ended up 'thrashing her pillow' when she heard the deal to Spurs was going through.

 All Martin O'Neill has to do is work out the transfer market - the rest of us have to work out the Villa boss

THE MIDLANDER: With Villa breaking into the top four . what next for O'Neill and Barry?

THE MIDLANDER: It's the life of Brian Clough for Martin O'Neill at Aston Villa as other bosses sweat over job descriptions





 

Source: Daily_Mail