Owen is the predator we need, says Giggs

Ferguson's 'punt' looks to be paying off as striker continues to score goals

When he stepped out of the tunnel and walked towards the team bus, the noise struck in one great wave. The Chinese have difficulty in pronouncing Ryan Giggs' name – it comes out as 'Lion Gigger'. They have no difficulty with Michael Owen and now it filled the night sky.

Pre-seasons are important for all footballers but of those who travelled with Manchester United to Asia, none had more at stake than the 29-year-old who but for injury and some dubious career decisions would already be England's leading goalscorer.

Thus far, it has all gone swimmingly. On arrival in Kuala Lumpur he gave a major interview which explained why he had allowed his form and morale to be dragged down at Newcastle and then got about the business of scoring goals. By the time he had boarded the bus for the long flight to Munich, after an 8-2 demolition of Hangzhou Greentown, he had averaged four in four games.

The opposition may have been modest but Owen might have reflected that, had he remained at St James' Park, he would by now be digesting the implications of a 6-1 defeat by Leyton Orient.

"He offers us something that we haven't got," said Giggs. "Michael is the predator of the kind Manchester United used to have over the years, in Ruud van Nistelrooy, Andy Cole and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. And with Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez going, we need goals.

"We create a lot of chances at Manchester United and the thing that has always struck me about Michael is that, if he misses them, it doesn't bother him, whereas some players withdraw into their shell the moment they miss. Ruud had that mentality; all great goalscorers have it. They know they will get another chance.

"After leaving Newcastle with all their troubles, United have given him a new lease of life because he is coming into a side that will create chances and, if he starts scoring for Manchester United, the rest will come." The next few friendlies should give a clearer idea of whether the move that Sir Alex Ferguson described as "a punt" but which the club's chief executive, David Gill, said had been in the offing for a year, will work. This week's Audi Cup, where United will play Boca Juniors followed by either Milan or Bayern Munich, comes before a home game with Valencia on 5 August and the Community Shield against Chelsea.

If Owen manages four goals from that lot, then even the England manager, Fabio Capello, who has not selected the striker since the 1-0 defeat by France last year, might have to take notice. Overtaking Sir Bobby Charlton's record of 49 international goals, a feat that once seemed a formality, could just be back on again.

"People have put a big question mark over him ever doing it," said the former England captain, Bryan Robson. "But Michael has always been top drawer and he knows what he is doing around the box. For me, this is a great challenge for him because he is now alongside some great players who will create chances for him. It's a great opportunity for him to get back into the England side.

"You have to look beyond the last two years he has had at Newcastle. If Michael Owen is really fit and you rotate the squad like Sir Alex Ferguson does, then that is perfect for Michael. You know that if he plays, his record suggests he will score one in two. I look beyond that. I think Michael will do really well with Manchester United but I also think he will succeed in the World Cup finals. You have to remember that five years ago everyone was raving about the combination of Wayne Rooney and Owen.

"Newcastle did not suit Michael's game. He had to keep coming back to the halfway line to find the ball but Manchester United will tend to have more possession than most teams they play against. They will be on the front foot and Michael will be in areas where he thrives, where he can lose defenders with his timing and intelligence. It could be a great move."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power