Wigan 0 Man Utd 5: No excuses, Owen should make Rooney his role model
24 August 2009 12:32
Flourishing as a Manchester United player can be as much about attitude as anything. Wayne Rooney has it, but it is hard not to wonder about Michael Owen.
Rooney is very much United's heartbeat these days, the type of player who can drag his team to victory almost on his own. In this way he is a little like his former captain Roy Keane.
Owen, on the other hand, seems to be in denial and the sooner he desists the better. On arriving at United this summer, he was quick to round on those who have labelled him injury-prone in recent years.
And after finally taking one of the many clear chances that have come his way in a United shirt, it was time for another go.
'I only played an hour or so against Burnley and had 15-20 minutes at home to Birmingham but there has still been quite a lot made of the fact I hadn't scored,' said Owen after hitting the fourth of United's five goals on Saturday.
'It was as though I hadn't scored for a couple of years. I had two chances at Burnley and one after coming on against Birmingham, so this was only the fourth I've had in a Manchester United shirt.
'I scored four in pre-season and didn't miss a chance, scoring everything in front of me. But when the season starts and I miss a couple of chances, as ever, everyone is quick to write you off.'
As a goalscorer, Owen has been almost peerless over the years. Certainly Rooney will benefit from playing and training with a player who has always been something of an expert at the priceless art of timing and finishing.
There is, however, something Owen can learn from his junior colleague, too. Rooney has not been without criticism over the years. Indeed, it is his tendency to act rashly on occasions that is stopping his manager Sir Alex Ferguson from handing him the captaincy that - in so many ways - he deserves.
Rarely, though, does the 23-yearold complain in the manner that is sadly becoming so typical of Owen. When Rooney looks for answers and reasons and explanations, he tends to find them from within. It is what great sportsmen do.
Owen - as sad as it is to say - seems to have become caught up in something of a blame culture. Before Saturday he had not scored a league goal since January and that is nobody's fault but his own.
'It is a bit like me personally over the years, it is the same for Manchester United,' he added.
'They have won the Premier League so many times, including the last three, so it is inevitable that after one defeat or even one draw everyone is mentioning the word crisis.
'Well, we've come up with the answer. I don't think anyone really needs to answer it. It's all about what you do on the pitch.'
On that point, Owen is quite right. United's second-half performance was excellent, as indeed was his own contribution that came after his introduction as a substitute.
The first half was relatively equal. As United played with something of a hangover from the defeat at Burnley, only Rooney managed to rise above the mediocrity.
Once he had given his team a second-half lead with a header, though, there was only going to be one winner. Rooney scored another while Dimitar Berbatov, Owen and Nani also helped themselves.
United still lack a little fluency but they rarely lack application or determination. From that perspective at least, the champions remain formidable.
As for Wigan, the next few weeks will be critical for their new manager Roberto Martinez.
'The first goal affected us too much psychologically,' he said. 'It's normal when you have such a big turnaround in players and it's the start of the season.
'There were many positives until United scored the first goal. They couldn't find a way to dictate the play.
'The game is going to help us beat teams like Manchester United one day. We've seen the best and worst of our defending.' It was a reasonable piece of self-analysis from Martinez. Perhaps Owen could learn from that.