OK, for starters I’m attributing a quote the author never actually said. And the circumstances/career trajectory are rather different. But I just can’t resist! Y’see, after a pine-riding tenure at Manchester United, Michael Owen finds himself out of work, his prodigious goal-scoring for Liverpool over a decade ago consigned to history. At the age of 32, “Owen will always be revered as one of the more accomplished strikers England has ever produced,” writes the Guardian’s Daniel Taylor, however, “ there is also this lingering suspicion that, at some unspecified point, we are talking here about someone who has fallen out of love with football.”
No footballer wants to be accused of lacking devotion but it is a valid question when there are people within Owen’s circle who freely admit he wants to work because he needs money for his horse racing empire at Manor House Stables.
Owen’s priority is to remain in the north-west, just as he once used to travel by helicopter to Newcastle United’s training sessions. He has already stated that he would not consider dropping into the Championship, even though it would mean the chance to play regularly, injuries permitting. He was a bit-part player at Manchester United but said he preferred being at a big club to a mid-sized one even though it meant – and this is the bit that is not always easy to comprehend – no actual football on Saturday afternoon. He became a non?playing football player, partly because of his injury issues but also because he could not get in the team on form. And here’s the thing: he had no apparent issue with it.
The perception has grown that Owen is now so devoted to the horse-racing industry that football comes a poor second; not an afterthought, but certainly not the focus of the dreams that Dunphy once wrote about. There was something genuinely moving about that interview when Brown Panther, a horse he bred and owns, won the King George V Stakes at Royal Ascot and Owen was moved to tears. It was just difficult to associate this with the guy we see when it comes to the old day job. Football? “I certainly wouldn’t take my kids to watch a match,” he volunteered during a Twitter discussion with Joey Barton a few days ago. What precisely does he think would happen to them?