Alex Ferguson hails 'unbelievable' Michael Owen

21 September 2011 10:54
Sir Alex Ferguson paid a glowing tribute to Michael Owen after the striker combined with fellow veteran Ryan Giggs to ease Manchester United's reserve team into the last 16 of the Carling Cup with a 3-0 win at Leeds.

United made 11 changes from the teamthat beat Chelsea on Sunday but still ran out easy winners as two goalsfrom Owen, 31, and one from Giggs, 37, brought their goal tally this season to 28 in eight matches.

Owen has now scored an incredible 11 goals from his last 12 starts. Thatthe run dates back to October 2009 just shows how difficult he has found it to break through at United, a task that is onlymade harder following the return of Danny Welbeck from a hamstring injury.

Opener: Michael Owen slots the ball home to put Manchester United in front

'Michael Owen's finishing was fantastic,' said Ferguson. 'His goal ratio is unbelievable. We are very pleased with him.

'Unfortunately for us he has had one or two injuries. But with me having Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov and Javier Hernandez he is not getting the games he deserves and that is unfortunate.'

Owen said: 'I am still only 31 and I have a good few years left in me yet.

'You don't get many chances to play at United so when you do, you need to perform otherwise you won't be seeing a football pitch again for a couple of months.

'The pressure is on when you get into this side because you don't get many chances.'

Hot shot: Owen fires his second into the top corner to double United's lead

Ferguson found a novel way of using Berbatov at the end of the game.

The Bulgarian ended up filling it at centre-back alongside Michael Carrick after 19-year-old debutant Ezekiel Fryers limped off near the end, to leave the visitors to coast home with 10-men.

Ferguson also confirmed that whilst Hernandez will return to training after emerging from the tackle by Ashley Cole on Sunday with only minor bruising, the Mexican will not be considered for the weekend trip to Stoke, when United should be fielding a more recognisable line-up.

'It was great for the young players to understand the club and for us to see their temperament,' said Ferguson, who introduced Paul Pogba and Larnell Cole, in addition to Welbeck, once victory was assured.

Fine vintage: Owen celebrates with United's veteran winger Ryan Giggs

'The young lads did really well. It was a great experience for them.

'Young Fryers coped very well. The atmosphere at Elland Road is hostile and was not fazed by it.'

After defeating United in the FA Cup at Old Trafford in January 2010, when they were still a League One team, at the very least manager Simon Grayson hoped his team could turn in a competitive performance.

Unfortunately, the hosts were never in it once they had failed to capitalise on some early pressure.

Liking what he sees: United manager Sir Alex Ferguson watches from the bench at Elland Road

'You have to give credit to Manchester United,' he said. 'They caused us a lot of problems.

'We gave the ball away too cheaply. Too many individuals over indulged themselves rather than keeping it simple.

'When you do that against top players, they will punish you and we didn't do ourselves justice.'

Grayson,whose team travel to Brighton on Friday evening, may come to rue his decision to field a virtually full strength side, although he accepts some lessons may have been learned.

'Manchester United have the strongest squad they have had for years,' he said. 'The whole group played with immense confidence.

'The team they put out tonight could have beaten a host of Premier League sides. It shows the gulf that is between us.

'I made a decision not to make too many changes because I wanted to give Manchester United a game. We didn't do that.'

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Source: Daily_Mail