Man Utd boss Sir Alex tips Michael Owen as a safe bet for goals galore
29 July 2009 10:27
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Sir Alex Ferguson has defended his gamble on signing Michael Owen from Newcastle this summer after the striker made a promising start to his Manchester United career.
Owen has scored four goals in as many games since joining the Red Devils in a shock move from Tyneside and Ferguson expects more of the same this season.
'He is a natural goalscorer and his record is fantastic,' said the Scot. 'He is 29 now and he has just got to stay the way he has been for 10 years.'
Owen's injury woes have grabbed most of the attention over the last four years, but Ferguson believes if he can stay fit and agile - as he has been in pre-season so far - he could well turn out to be one of the bargains of the summer.
The frontman should make his next appearance in a United shirt in the Audi Cup clash with Boca Juniors tonight (Wednesday), a game which will be staged in Munich's Allianz Arena.
Should he figure in that fixture and play again against either Bayern Munich or AC Milan on Thursday, six games in 12 days would suggest his injury problems are a thing of the past.
'His injuries have always been the main subject and that is probably why everyone in Europe was not after him,' continued the United manager. 'We don't think we have taken a risk, given his record as a goalscorer.
'It is a good punt, or a good bet on him to do well, and hopefully we are right.'
Owen has been given the No 7 jersey at Old Trafford and, even if he can only score half as many as the last bearer of that shirt, his signing will be regarded as a success.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored 26 times last season and Ferguson admits Real Madrid's new signing is the standard bearer in world football.
'Ronaldo is fantastic - the best player in the world - and we wish him well,' he said. 'He has given us six great years and it is difficult to hold on to players from other countries for that long.
'We were lucky. I never expected to have him for more than six years. The move to Madrid was something he wanted and we thought we should grant him that.
'He was great for us, never let us down and was a great professional. He will do well next year.'
Ferguson will this evening take his first close look at the man earmarked to take Ronaldo's position in his side next season, Antonio Valencia, but there will be no sight of former Bayern midfielder Owen Hargreaves just yet.
Hargreaves was the first player to score a goal in a competitive match at the Allianz Arena when he netted here for the Bavarians in August 2005.
But his career, like that of Owen's, has been dogged by injury recently and Ferguson does not want to do anything which may jeopardise him making a complete recovery from two knee operations - not even for reasons of nostalgia for the Canada-born 28-year-old, who spent a decade growing up in Munich.
'Hargreaves will not play in this tournament,' he said. 'We had hoped he would be joining us, but he is still in his programme of rehabilitation.
'He has had major operations on both knees and we are not rushing that. He is young enough to come back once he is fully fit, but we are not rushing him.'