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Michael Owen fluffs his lines on Old Trafford debut for Manchester United
Published : 05 Aug 2009 22:12:30
Warmly received by the Stretford End at the start of United's 2-0 victory over Valencia in their final warm-up game of the pre-season, Owen was gifted four opportunities to create the best of first impressions on his new public only to fire wide three times and put another straight at Cesar Sanchez. Capello, though, would have been intrigued to see signs of a promising partnership between Owen and Rooney, the scorer of the first goal, developing. Related ArticlesFoster gets chance to shineFerguson defends transfer policyFerguson writes off Liverpool's title chancesFilling the Ronaldo voidUnited reignite Ribery interestSport on televisionIt is a pairing Owen hopes will earn him a place in the Italian's England squad, if not for next week's friendly in Holland then certainly for the World Cup in South Africa come June. Owen has not featured for the national side since the 1-0 defeat in Paris last March and Capello is believed to harbour doubts about the former Liverpool player's ability to contribute as a team player, not just an out-and-out goalscorer. Blossoming alongside Rooney at Old Trafford will immeasurably improve his chances of erasing those question marks. The manager who has given him the chance to do that, Sir Alex Ferguson, is adamant that is the least he will achieve, despite admitting his biggest transfer gamble of the summer was a 'controversial' one. 'He may have reached a stage in his career where he won't figure every game,' said Ferguson last night, 'but he'll score a lot of goals for us in keeping with his tremendous record throughout his career with England, Liverpool and Newcastle. He can still surprise a few people. 'There seems to be a constant debate about the injuries he's picked up over the years, but you look at Paul Scholes, who's had two or three bad injuries, and he's always come back, so we are not worried about Michael. "If players have the resolve to get back then they always will, and there's no doubt that Michael still loves the game of football and is hungry to play.' Ferguson is clearly pleased enough with his summer captures to put his chequebook away until January at least, even with three-quarters of the £80 million he received for Cristiano Ronaldo still available to spend and David Silva, reportedly a target for the United manager, demonstrating on Wednesay night that he is more than capable of shining at Old Trafford. Both the Scot and David Gill, the club's chief executive, reiterated that Luis Antonio Valencia creator of goals for Rooney and Tom Cleverley and man of the match on his own home bow Gabriel Obertan and Owen will be this year's only new arrivals, despite Ferguson aready missing six first team players after Edwin van der Sar was ruled out for two months with a finger injury. Ben Foster, another man with England aspirations, is likely to be given the chance to state his claim as the Dutch international's long-term successor, starting at Wembley on Sunday in the Community Shield.