Michael Owen admitted yesterday that he was "not proud" of his position at Manchester United, being paid by the club while rarely playing for the first team. The former England striker scored twice against Leeds United in Tuesday night's 3-0 Carling Cup win, his first appearance of the season, but insisted afterwards he was desperate for more opportunities to earn his pay.
"I am not content if I am not playing, I don't want anybody to think that," Owen said after his first United start since January. "I get criticised by a lot of people who say I don't play but I pick my money up. I am not proud of that fact. I want to play all the time."
Owen yesterday went on Twitter to emphasise that he was not at the club for money. "[I have] greed for success maybe, but if I wanted money the last place I would of signed for is United," he wrote.
Owen insisted that just being at United was a pleasure in itself. "Obviously, I am not happy if I am barely played but it is not me to go banging the door down of the gaffer," he said. "I go to training every day, put in 100 per cent and always have a smile on my face. It is a privilege to play for such a top team with top players and I have loved every moment of it. And I am enjoying every moment."
Ferguson gave Owen a one-year extension to his deal last summer, and the striker – who turns 32 in December – said that he would only stay beyond that should the manager still want him. "I have got a few years left," he said, "and I would love them to be at Manchester United. For that to happen, I would need to be involved because the manager would not want me if I was not part of the squad."
First-team opportunities for Owen have certainly been limited. Tuesday's seasonal debut was his first start since the FA Cup game against Southampton on 29 January. His last Premier League start was on 2 October last year.
Owen admitted he felt frustrated by that. "The first season [2009-10] was fantastic and I had some great moments. There was the Wolfsburg hat-trick and the goal against Man City. I had some great highs," he said. "Then last year I qualified for a medal and played in a dozen games in the Premier League. It was probably not quite enough to be content but we won the league."
Would he consider leaving United next summer? "If I moved to a smaller club I might get more games," he admitted. "We will see how the season goes, and assess it then."Reuse content