Monday 22 June ~

The first day of Wimbledon marks the beginning of two months when football isn’t an automatic choice for backpage headlines. Unless Andy Murray falls in the first round and Australia cruise to victory in the first three Test matches (the second of these certainly a scenario we should not discount) then fans of transfer tittle-tattle and the managerial merry-go-round will have to wade through countless pages of jingoism and vague xenophobia before finding out that Kevin Nolan may or may not be going to Blackburn. And they say summer isn’t the same in a non-World Cup year.

This leaves two strikers who at different times could command half a sport section each for their achievements now scrabbling for a move to save their careers while being largely ignored by clubs and the public alike. Michael Owen and Andriy Shevchenko are both former winners of the Ballon d’Or, both at times arguably the greatest goalscorers in the world and both today featured in slightly bleak stories of them trying to reignite their careers.

Shevchenko, it is easy to forget, plays for Chelsea. Having spent last season on loan at AC Milan (where he delivered an uninspiring two goals in nine games) he is now supposedly hoping that the arrival of Carlo Ancelotti will help him finally prove his worth at Stamford Bridge. Though in telling the Corriere dello Sport “on 9 July I will join Chelsea in pre-season training, then we will see what happens” you do feel he not may believe he will be picking up the golden boot next May. At least Shevchenko can blame his fall from grace on age, at 32 he is past his best and he will surely not be too disappointed that his reputation gained in previous years sees clubs like Roma still interested in signing him.

The same cannot be said of Michael Owen, who at 29 should be at his peak but today finds himself a Championship player being linked with a move to Hull City. Whether it is through injuries or a string of bad career decisions Owen has managed to ruin any reputation he ever acquired, to the point where his management company apparently recently sent a brochure to potential buyers to remind them of his achievements. Never slow to push his face into the papers, Phil Brown has admitted his interest has been pricked, though surely moving to a club that won one game after Christmas and is managed by a man who sang karaoke on the pitch to celebrate staying up is even beyond Owen’s misguided decision making. Josh Widdicombe

Comments (3)
Comment by hullabaloo 2009-06-22 20:20:43

does two moves - both poor in hindsight - constitute a 'string of bad career decisions'? ok, so the newcastle move from madrid was questionable. but moving to real madrid, playing with a team of world-class players at the top of their league, was an understandable move at the time, no?

agree though that he's gone into career freefall lately - and, for all he's done in footballing terms, it would be sad to see him at hull. apologies to hull but...

Comment by ale 2009-06-22 21:29:08

the last sentence suggests Owen has many other options...other than retirement which may still be preferrable to hooking up with a team managed by Phil Brown...

Comment by jackofalltrades 2009-06-23 10:47:48

Newcastle bent over backwards for Owen, giving him his ridiculous weekly wage (£118K per week), allowing him his 'get-out' transfer clause, putting up with the constant speculation that he was off to (insert club here) as soon as the transfer window opened again, and of course his constant no-show on the football field.

He made no commitment to the area, preferring to commute by helicopter from his stables/home and was allowed - in his many periods of convalescence - to work from home with his personal physiotherapist/trainer. Unsurprisingly, other clubs don't fancy getting involved in any of that.

He has cost Newcastle around £40 million for his services over four seasons, playing a total of 70 league games, scoring 26 league goals which averages out at about £1.5 million per goal.

Apprently, to-date, he has resisted the 'pay-per-play' approaches made to him, but nearer the start of the season, his wage expectations may have dropped a little and then someone - Man City/Villa or possibly Everton (who were interested in bringing him from Real Madrid) - will pick him up with the expectation that they'll get maybe half a season out of him, the trick being to pick the right half...

Difficult to see where he'd fit in - Owen's stopped taking people on as he's no longer fast enough - his only route to goal is to poach the odd header or knock-in...great if you've got a side that's pumping the ball into the box regularly (something which Newcastle obviously failed to do much of last season) but otherwise not really a lot of use, especially as he has a tendency to come off by far the worst in 50-50's.

He's definitely a bit of a gamble, which is quite ironic given his hobby.

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