Michael Owen given No 7 shirt as Sir Alex Ferguson says no more signings
13 July 2009 02:52
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who claimed that his summer business is done after unveiling new recruits Owen, Antonio Valencia and Gabriel Obertan this lunchtime, has handed former England striker Owen a two-year deal at Old Trafford after signing the free agent following his departure from Newcastle United earlier this month.
Wigan chairman Dave Whelan and Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce both ruled out moves for Owen prior to his United transfer after citing doubts over his hunger and fitness record.
But with Owen set to make his United debut against a Malaysian XI in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, the 29-year-old, who has been handed the number seven shirt vacated by Cristiano Ronaldo, claims he is fit and ready to succeed at Old Trafford.
He said: "When people say I'm injury prone, that's what gets up my nose most if I'm honest, because I don't believe I am.
"I've played 32 and 33 games in the last two years. Newcastle weren't in Europe, we didn't have any long cup runs and there's only 38 games in a Premier League season, so I don't think it's that bad if I'm honest.
"I was injured the two years prior to that, but if somebody lands on your foot and your metatarsal breaks, there isn't much you can do about it. I am 29 and have played over 500 games for club and country.
"In some ways it irritates me when people write me off, but I didn't set the world alight in the last year at Newcastle. We weren't playing well as a team and I didn't do my bit.
"But I am hungry to do well, I'm as hungry as ever and I don't feel I need to prove that. I still believe I can do well in a top team, like Manchester United.
"It doesn't hurt [to be written off] when you believe in yourself, but if this challenge doesn't create a hunger and put a spring in my step, then nothing will.
"I am as hungry as ever and I don't need to prove it to people who question that. Playing for a manager like Sir Alex Ferguson and a club like United says it all for me."
Owen, having made his name with United's bitter rivals Liverpool, is one of a select few players to have crossed the divide by playing for both clubs. And he admits that wearing a United shirt is not something he expected to happen during his difficult time at Newcastle.
He said: "Over the last couple of years, I probably wouldn't have expected to be sat here as a Manchester United player.
"I came here as a youngster, so it was always a possibility and you never know where you will go in your career, but it would have been dreaming if, over the last couple of years, I had dreamt of plying my trade here.
"As soon as United came in, though, every other set of talks was put on hold and the deal was wrapped up virtually straightaway. I still feel that I belong at a top club and I am delighted to be here."
United's summer business has seen them lose Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez and miss out on top target Karim Benzema, who quit Lyon for Real Madrid in preference to a move to United.
But manager Ferguson insists that the club are right not to allow themselves to be dragged into the escalating transfer market. Ferguson said: "I think that has concluded our business.
"We are in the middle of a very difficult summer in football because it has been very difficult to get value. But I think we have got good value and that is the right way to go for us.
"The market has another couple of months to go before it closes and I think there will be a bit of activity.
"Liverpool obviously paid £17m for Glen Johnson. That's the one step they took to bring a player to them.
"Chelsea have added the boy from Manchester City - Daniel Sturridge - and a tribunal will value that. Arsenal have signed a centre-back from Ajax who is a decent player.
"As for Benzema, as far as we were concerned he was beyond our value. People have got to try and put a value on players which they think is fair. Lyon have done well to get 42m euro for him.
"What does that tell people about Manchester United? It tells you we are sensible. Real Madrid are not nearly as afraid of debt as anyone else in the world, but we're happy the way we operate.
"No matter what players we have got in, we are still going to be strong next season."