Under the watchful eye of Fabio Capello, a number of England hopefuls looked to impress the England manager in Sunday’s Carling Cup final. The likes of Ashley Young, Stephen Warnock and James Milner will all have been hoping to stand out but, with Wayne Rooney on the bench, it was a chance for Michael Owen to prove his worth to the Italian.
And what a start the United front man had. After seeing his team go 1-0 down, Owen showed his predatory instinct and coolness in the box to slot home and get his team back on level terms. Capello will surely have liked what he saw in the early stages of the match. However, fitting of his current situation, Owen failed to finish the first half. After latching on to a through ball, and with the crowd expecting him to release to trigger, Owen pulled up with what turned out to be a niggling hamstring injury. Luckily for Manchester United they had Wayne Rooney to replace him, unluckily for Owen, it will probably end any hope of him going to the World Cup.
Although the injury may only see him miss a couple of games but, having seen the events of Sunday afternoon, the Italian will surely not risk taking a player who is so injury prone.
It is such a shame to see a great striker in that position. You feel that, after scoring the opener, Owen could have gone on to make a real impact on the game and potentially give Capello a few things to think about. As has been the story with Owen over the past years, his international career has taken yet another blow.
Personally, I think this was the final blow. Despite being a goal scorer, Capello will only take Owen as a last resort and will surely have seen the Cup Final as a perfect example as to why he should not risk him.
Owen may have a considerable amount of experience but I doubt that will be enough to merit a place in the squad. In the early stages of Sunday’s game I was impressed with his hold up play and the way in which he brought his team-mates in to the game. In stark contrast, and £30million more expensive, Dimitar Berbatov proved why he is beginning to pee off a large number of the United fans. If United receive a bid this summer, I can’t see Ferguson holding back in letting him go.
It is not that Owen is below international standard. Given a run of form he could certainly score goals but considering it is coming to the stage where experimenting is very limited, I can’t see any way that he could force himself in to the team. He was not named in the squad to face Egypt this week and Sunday’s game will have nailed the coffin shut for Owen and England.
The 2010 World Cup will see sports betting whipped into a frenzy this summer, but what are the odds on Capello’s men bringing home the cup?