Move to Old Trafford means he can no longer be overlooked

Football FanCast guest columnist Paul Birtles feels that Capello no longer has an excuse to continually overlook Michael Owen.

When Sir Alex Ferguson made what was perceived as a bold move in signing Michael Owen, I applauded the decision by the United boss as suddenly I felt vindicated in my beliefs.

I have been championing the striker's cause for months and refused to buy into the tripe that the press and so called experts in the game spurt out about him being a spent force or he is no longer interested in football. What Owen needed was a club with higher ambitions and more importantly to play for a manager he has the utmost respect for.

What I like about this move is that finally Capello can no longer ignore him, like he chose to do when at Newcastle. It must be gut wrenching for a player of Owen's class to watch England knowing that the likes of Darren Bent, Gabby Agbonlahor and Carlton Cole are perceived as the better alternatives in attack. There really is no logic or consistency in Capello's thinking and in a way it seemed personal. Agbonlahor and Bent were struggling more than most for form and with the latter not even getting in the Spurs team, which gave little credence to the belief that Fabio only picks players on form or who are playing regularly.

The problem Capello has now is that he can't ignore Owen if he carries on his pre-season form into the new campaign for the current champions. There will be a public outcry for his selection and there is a possibility that it could cause some friction should Fabio choose not to pick him. Regardless of what Capello's opinion of Owen is like, if England has any hope of succeeding then they need a fit Michael Owen alongside Wayne Rooney. He is the best finisher this country has got in a country mile and his international record more than proves it. Fabio can no longer hide behind what to the majority of supporters all know and that any chance of World Cup success in South Africa 2010 will be far greater with Michael Owen in the team than without.

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