Monday, August 08, 2005

Javier Zanetti for Argentina (v England), 30 June 1998

Say what you like about Alan Shearer -- cue Lord "here's what you could have won" Bargain -- but the reason that he gives so little of himself to the press is because of his total contempt for their profession. And so it comes to pass that one of the greatest English players of his generation is portrayed as boring. I don't think he is boring at all, he's just refusing to play their game, refusing to give the 'gentlemen' of the press anything to talk about except his football. I also think that as he's got older, the old deadpan routine is starting to be mixed in with a certain amount of wit, and there's a bit of a twinkle in the old warhorse's eye as he plays a straight bat. Oh yes - Alan has a whole lot more to say, he's just not saying it to the press (although at this point I will admit that applying this attitude to his punditry isn't great for the viewer - personally I like my pundits to tell us their opinions). Clearly I'm not alone in thinking this about Shearer, because he has long been touted as a manager in waiting, and not just because of the fact that he has clearly wielded more influence at Newcastle than most of the last 5 managers.

Compare this to Michael "aces wild" Owen. Amazing though it seems, given that he seems to have been around for so long, Owen is still only 25. He will have watched Shearer in his pomp at Blackburn and no doubt wanted to be like him. Judging by his press conferences and interviews, he has modelled himself on Shearer in more ways than just his desire to score goals. He's boring. Unlike Shearer though, I've never got the feeling that there's anything much going on behind those eyes that would suggest that he has got anything else in his head except bland football platitudes. His gambling habit threatened to make him mildly interesting for a while, but then I worked out that his spending was the equivalent of me putting £5 on the National - no more than he could afford on his salary.

Owen got his "dream move" to Real Madrid in 2004 (when you speak in platitudes, how could it be anything other than a dream move? I'm sure the only thing that stopped him from saying it was the club he had supported as a child is that he was leaving the club he had supported as a child). He had a pretty good season, scoring 16 goals in 26 starts, but spent most of the season on the bench. No one said that Real Madrid was a meritocracy, and in spite of his goals, Owen remained very much below Ronaldo and a woefully out of form Raul in the striking pecking order. This summer, Madrid have signed two more strikers: the Brazilians Robinho and Julio Baptista. With the World Cup in Germany looming at the end of this season, Owen surely cannot afford to not be playing regular football. So he's been angling for a move. He's been making lots of noises about how he wants to stay at Madrid and fight for his place, how he won't let transfer talk distract him from his pre-season training, but he's also made it absolutely clear that he wants to come back to England. Ideally to the North-West, and presumably to a club in the European Cup (sorry Newcastle, but did you really think he would?).

For England fans, this raises the interesting possibility that he could be paired with his England striking partner Wayne Rooney at Manchester Utd. Or he could make an emotional return to the European Champions. Where will he go? Will the move happen before the start of the season, or will he have to wait until January? Will he be given a chance at Madrid? Where would you put your money?

I'm sorry to say, but I don't really have the energy to care. He's a great little player, and he is a proven provider of the most valuable currency in the game -- goals. But he's so dull. Insipid. Vacuous. Uninspiring.....

And frankly he's no Peter Crouch is he?


Flash said...

I think he'll go to United. See they've sold off another of their "stars" today.
(Perhaps Kleberson chose the wrong united after all?)

Generating cash for something?

LB said...

Cash for Phil Neville + Cash for Kleberson + Shirt Sales Increase for signing him = Michael Owen.

England play a World Cup next summer with Owen and Rooney up front. Surely it's better for them to be playing together all season than Owen getting 10 games in Spain?

Although I'd like him, Swiss, I agree with you. I really can't be arsed.

(Incidentally, last transfer from United to Liverpool or vice-versa? 1964).

weenie said...

Half of me wants Owen back at Anfield.

The other half keeps thinking of how he left Liverpool in the lurch cos he wanted to win the Champions League...

I think he will go to Man U.

Ben said...

I'm encouraged by the fact that we seem to be the only club that has expressed firm interest. Of course we have to think that the lack of European football will be fatal to our chances of landing Owen, but we can but try to convince him of the joys of life on Tyneside. A large wadge of cash might do it - it worked with Parker and Emre. Stranger things have happened.

swisslet said...

Owen and Shearer? It's England c.1998 !