Michael Owen, who is attempting to shake off the groin injury which has further damaged his England hopes while Fabio Capello's squad head to Ukraine, sent a message to the national side's management yesterday that he can live without playing for them.
Owen's last appearance for England as a substitute in a friendly against France in March 2008, not the outcome he foresaw in his autobiography five years ago in which he said he hoped to play in "four or five World Cups". However, he insists that Capello's refusal to consider him does not trouble him. "I don't lie awake at night thinking about it," Owen said. "There is plenty more to life if I'm not picked in the England squad."
With 40 goals in his international career, crowned by the solo effort in the World Cup defeat to Argentina in St Etienne in 1998 that marked his arrival as a world-class striker, Owen still declared himself an optimist. "I will always score goals and I have got the record to show that," he said. "I have proven that at World Cups before but the last thing I want to do is start a campaign and say all the reasons why I could be or should be involved."
Owen has also attempted to neutralise the inevitable hostility which will accompany his return to Anfield for Manchester United's game with Liverpool there on 25 October. The 29-year-old tried to place into context his recent assertion that life at Old Trafford was "everything you would expect of a top team, probably the biggest club in the world". He said: "I didn't set out to offend anyone. What I said was, in terms of support, revenue and stadium, Man United are probably the biggest in the world but Madrid, Barcelona and Liverpool are up there with them in other areas. I've been back before with Newcastle a couple of times so I've played there for an opposing team, but I'm certainly looking forward to this game. It will be different. It'll be a bit noisier."
Owen, who came off in United's Champions League game with Wolfsburg last week as a precaution having felt his groin tighten, has yet to be on the winning side against his former club.
There was an illuminating insight yesterday into the dislike between two of United's former strikers, Andy Cole and Teddy Sheringham, which had is roots in Sheringham being substituted for Cole while playing for England. Cole, The Independent columnist, describes a fight with Sheringham on a pre-season training camp in Spain which led to Sir Alex Ferguson abandoning training. "I was devastated when Teddy Sheringham signed for United [in 1997] because I couldn't stand him," Cole told Andy Mitten in an interview for his book Glory, Glory! about Man United in the 1990s.
Cole also reveals how Roy Keane and Gary Neville once chased each other around the dressing room at half-time at Coventry's Highfield Road. "We'd not been playing well and [Roy] started raving at Gary Neville. Nev gave it him back and Roy flipped and started chasing him around the dressing room. The manager came in and settled him down."Reuse content