Owen admits frustration with Real

Michael Owen has provided the strongest indication yet that his patience is running out at Real Madrid after spending much of the last two months on the sidelines. The England striker, who came off the bench to cap Real's 3-1 win over Zaragoza with a coolly taken strike at the weekend, has made it clear that he believes he has done enough to earn himself a place in the starting line-up and is not prepared to settle for the role of
galactico supersub.

Michael Owen has provided the strongest indication yet that his patience is running out at Real Madrid after spending much of the last two months on the sidelines. The England striker, who came off the bench to cap Real's 3-1 win over Zaragoza with a coolly taken strike at the weekend, has made it clear that he believes he has done enough to earn himself a place in the starting line-up and is not prepared to settle for the role of galactico supersub.

"I want to improve the situation I'm in," the former Liverpool striker admitted yesterday. "I want to be in the starting XI and I'll never be happy sitting on the bench. I don't want to be the type of person that's happy with not succeeding."

When asked if Premiership clubs would be wasting their time trying to sign him, Owen turned down the chance to quash reports linking him with a return to England, commenting only that his situation made speculation unavoidable.

"It's inevitable when something happens at a club," he said. "Obviously, my name's been linked back in England with a couple of teams, but that's only because I haven't been in the starting XI for a month or two."

Owen clearly feels that he has done all he can on the pitch to demonstrate that he is worthy of a place in the first team and a glance at the statistics provides strong support for his case. He has the best strike rate of any of the leading forwards in the league, snapping up his seven goals in 772 minutes - a goal every 110 minutes - marginally better than the leading scorer Samuel Eto'o, who has taken an average of 112 minutes to score each of his 14 goals for Barcelona.

More revealing still is the fact that the two men ahead of him in the pecking order at Real have less impressive records. Ronaldo has scored one goal every 124 minutes while the captain Raul has taken over three times as long as Owen for each of his four league goals. The England striker said that no one should be surprised by his effectiveness in front of goal.

"I don't think it's strange that I'm scoring goals. I've done it all my life and I've always had a good record. If I'd played a little bit more maybe I could have scored even more."

Owen's progress at Real has clearly been hampered by the succession of upheavals at the club. Since he made his £9m move from Liverpool last August, three different coaches have been at the helm. The former Spain coach Jose Antonio Camacho threw in the towel after three games in protest at not being allowed to run the team his way. His assistant Mariano Garcia Remon lasted three months before being sacked and replaced by Wanderley Luxemburgo.

Owen made no secret of his frustration at having to earn the confidence of three different managers in such a short time.

"As soon as the first manager came in I was a sub and then I gradually played more and more," he said. "Then under the second manager it was exactly the same. Obviously, it starts from scratch again with the new manager. I have to impress him because if I don't play well now I don't think he will be watching the tapes to see how well I played before."

Owen knows his best chance of a commanding a regular place will be to oust Raul. "Ronaldo's scoring a lot of goals as well. He is a fantastic player and he deserves his place in the team. I've played with him before and we've both scored goals when we've been in the same team ... so I think we can play together. The top players should be able to adapt to whoever they play with."

Although Raul has had a poor season, he is the team captain and retains a privileged position at the club as the only home-grown talent mentioned in the same breath as the galacticos. Owen may have proved himself on the pitch but he still faces a daunting task before he can cement his place in the first-choice line-up at Real.

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