Football Station

Beauty & the Beast in Group B

Group B –



Korea Republic


Group B looks, off the cuff, a tame group.  Who would say otherwise?  Argentina should have a fairly easy task with all three teams, but, I suppose, the second spot is up for grabs.  The stingy Greeks will be defensively stout, as they always are.  Korea won’t have the home field advantage they had in 2002, but will still have a few tricks up their sleeve.  And Nigeria will probably be tipped to take the second spot, but funny things happen at the World Cup and this one should be no exception.

Greece – Probably the most boring team to watch it football.  How they won Euro 2004 is remarkable, but their defensiveKyrgiakos will test the resolve of attacking play resolve and their grinding out of wins got them the trophy.  The Greeks will look towards Theofanis Gekas for goals, Liverpool’s Sotirios Kyrgiakos for defensive leadership and Giorgos Karagounis for everything in the middle of the park as the Captain is also the most capped at 32 years old.  It’s hard to doubt Greece’s ability after their historic upset of the Euro 2004 tournament.  Still though, it’s hard to look past the attacking threats of Argentina and Nigeria.  They will probably watch footage from that 2o04 for inspiration and ideas…seriously.

Korea Republic

Like Greece, the Tigers will be looking to draw on experience and their 2002 World Cup run as the driving force behind this campaign.  Their oldest player and most capped at a whopping 129 games is goalkeeper Woon-Jae Lee and their most experienced at an elite level is without question Manchester United midfielder and captain Ji-Sung Park.  Park will float in right behind Dong-Gook Lee in attack with Chung-Yong Lee looking to press forward on the left as well.  They will have to rely heavily on their work rate to get them through as they are quick but not as quick as Nigeria and not as technically gifted as Argentina.  If they progress it will be because of their hard work and a little luck.

Nigeria – Do not underestimate the Super Eagles in Group B, as they have terrific pace and a lot of experience in the squad.

Obafemi Martins will lead the line against Group B

Three members (Joseph Yobo, Yakubu, Victor Anichebe) of it ply their trade at Goodison Park of Everton in England.  Portsmouth (Kanu, John Utaka), Fulham (Dickson Etuhu), Bolton Wanderers (Danny Shittu) and notably Chelsea (John Obi Mikel) boast Nigerian players.  Obafemi Martins is another player I’m expecting to make things happen in South Africa.  Martins once played for Newcastle and now plays for Wolfsburg in Germany.  His pace paired with the pace of Victor Obinna will give the physical Greeks something think twice about as well as the rest of Group B.  The captain, Kanu, stands the most capped, and his creative play will allow Martins to perform well, however his age has looked more noticeable as of late.  In qualifying they conceded only one goal in six matches and had a perfect run.  With John Obi Mikel steadying the ship in the middle of the park, breaking down attacks, and starting moves forward, the Nigerians are well equipped in all areas.

Argentina – How do you solve a problem like Argentina?  Maradona’s rag-tag group of players look unbeatable on paper, but have failed to impress as Maradona has come under intense scrutiny back in Argentina.  Obvious stand outs for the team are Lionel Messi, who has more individual honors than you can count on both hands, Carlos Tevez, Javier Mascherano and up and comer Angel Di Maria.  Their attack is probably the best in the world with Higuain, Aguero, Tevez, Messi and Milito all big time names.  Their midfield is commanded by the hard tackling Javier Mascherno and their defense steadied by Martín Demichelis.  The only question mark over La Albiceleste is the team chemistry.  For some reason, they have not been able to click into full gear and many are hoping they find their feet soon.  Maradona is taking the majority of the blame as he rotates more players in and out than anybody ever has.  His style is almost similar to Rafael Benitez’s bizarre rotation policy at Liverpool.  Still though, they’re not the best at the tournament, but they are too good to not advance out of their group and past a few more games.

Prediction –

1. Argentina

2. Nigeria

3. Greece

4. South Korea

Transfer News – September 16th

Transfer News – September 16th, 2009


  • Newcastle boss Chris Hughton wants to sign Fulham forward Diomansy Kamara and Aston Villa striker Marlon Harewood on loan.
  • Hull could allow Caleb Folan and Daniel Cousin to join Middlesbrough and Newcastle respectively on loan.
  • Wigan boss Roberto Martinez is giving former Sunderland goalkeeper Jurgen Macho a chance to return to the Premier League.
  • Bolton have agreed a deal worth up to £1million with Wolves to sign defender Mark Connolly.
    The French-Senegalese hitman has been targeted by a number of clubs.

    The French-Senegalese hitman has been targeted by Newcastle


  • Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has blasted Manchester City manager Mark Hughes for trying to defend Emmanuel Adebayor.
  • Rafa Benitez says the Premier League has rushed through the introduction of a quota system for home-grown players too soon.
  • Former Republic of Ireland boss Steve Staunton has applied for the manager’s job at League Two side Rotherham.
  • Stoke defender Andrew Davies has rejected the chance to join Plymouth on loan.
  • Sheffield United boss Kevin Blackwell is ready to battle with Ipswich, Colchester and Barnsley to sign Danny Shittu from Bolton.DAILY MAIL:
  • It has emerged that Liverpool’s kit sponsorship with Standard Chartered is worth more than the £120million a year reported.
  • Liverpool chief Tom Hicks has hit out at the Arab owners of Manchester City and insisted that there £120million transfer spending spree is ‘unsustainable’.
  • Olympiakos have expressed interest in making Bryan Robson their new coach.
  • James Vaughan has been given approval by Everton to join a club, which could be Middlesbrough, on loan.

    The EPL's youngest goal scorer could be on his way out of Everton.

    The EPL's youngest goal scorer could be on his way out of Everton.

  • Former West Ham and Liverpool defender Julian Dicks has been appointed as manager of Grays Athletic.DAILY EXPRESS:
  • Hong Kong businessman Carson Yeung wants Birmingham to spearhead a revolution in Chinese football, after formally lodging his takeover bid.
  • The Scottish FA yesterday kept faith in George Burley by backing him to continue as Scotland manager.THE SUN:
  • Newcastle are lining up a loan move for Fulham’s Diomansy Kamara to cover for Shola Ameobi.
  • West Ham are set to open an academy in Minna, Nigeria.
  • Carson Yeung’s Birmingham takeover is just six weeks away after his company made an £81million offer in cash.
  • New Portsmouth owner Sulaiman Al Fahim insists there will be money to spend in January even though Peter Storrie says the club remains short of funds.
  • Michel Platini’s plan to make the clubs live within their means was approved by UEFA yesterday.DAILY RECORD:
  • Alex McLeish has welcomed the decision to save Scotland manager George Burley’s job.

  • Transfer News – September 2nd


    * Daivd James fears for his World Cup place after being left stranded at crisis club Portsmouth.

    * Burnley boss Owen Coyle hailed the sgining of striker David Nugent in a last-gasp loan deal from Portsmouth on deadline day.

    * Gary Megson is backing Ivan Klasnic to solve Bolton’s chronic goalscoring problems after completing a loan deal for the Croatian striker.


    * Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka is said to be angry and frustrated after discovering he will not be getting a new contract this season.

    David James has been told to focus on Portsmouth and not showing pictures of himself to 8 year matter how much it boosts his esteem

    David James has been told to focus on Portsmouth and not showing pictures of himself to 8 year matter how much it boosts his esteem

    * Arsenal are set to appeal against UEFA’s decision to hand Eduardo a two-match ban for diving.

    * Martin O’Neill was forced to sweat it out as he took his Aston Villa summer spending spree past the £40m mark last night.

    * Steve Bruce last night blocked a deadline bid by Spurs to sign Sunderland defender Anton Ferdinand.

    * Fulham snapped up Swedish striker David Elm on a one-year deal for £1m from Kalmar FF.

    * Dutch defender Johnny Heitinga became Everton’s top earner last night in a beat-the-clock move to Merseyside.

    * Portsmouth lost another of their big stars yesterday with Niko Kranjcar joining Tottenham in a £2.75m move.

    * FA Cup sponsors E.ON have pulled the plug on their £35m deal.

    * Rafa Benitez has become the first top boss to face the wrath of the FA over their new rules for criticising referees.

    * Steve Harper has told Newcastle owner Mike Ashley to pull his finger out if he wants promotion this season.


    * David Nugent finally ended his Portsmouth hell by securing a six-month loan move to Burnley bang on deadline.

    * Niko Kranjcar insists he has not joined Tottenham as a stand-in for crock Luka Modric.

    * Michael Ballack says Chelsea have been boosted by Liverpool’s rocky start to the season.

    * Jamie Carragher has told Liverpool’s critics not to write them off – because they are the No 1 comeback kings.

    * Emmanuel Adebayor says it will be like a family at war when he lines up against Arsenal in 10 days’ time.

    * Manchester United and Real Madrid target Franck Ribery has blasted Bayern Munich boss Luis van Gaal in an amazing deadline-day outburst.


    * Aston Villa were given dispensation to complete a £5million deal for Richard Dunne last night as negotiations over his departure from Manchester City rumbled on past the 5pm deadline.

    * Newcastle pulled off a coup by signing Manchester United defender Craig Cathcart on a season-long loan.

    * Aidy Boothroyd will return to football today as the new manager of Colchester United.

    * Stoke were beaten by the clock in an ambitious bid to sign Bayern Munich right back Christian Lell.

    * Claudio Ranieri, the former Chelsea manager, is the new coach of Roma after Luciano Spalletti resigned yesterday following defeats in the opening Serie A games.

    Ranieri...Claudio Ranieri

    Ranieri...Claudio Ranieri


    * Ashley Cole will complete a new £120,000-a-week, five-year deal with Chelsea when he returns from England World Cup duty.

    * Birmingham have signed Sunderland midfielder Teemu Tanio on loan until the end of the season.

    * Harry Redknapp’s reputation as the master wheeler-dealer took a major hit on transfer deadline day.

    * The Premier League’s Big Four reined in their spending yesterday to leave Everton’s £6million deal for Holland international Johnny Heitinga the biggest transfer in a low-key deadline day.


    * Celtic boss Tony Mowbray last night admitted he was delighted to snap up Chinese international Zheng Zhi after chasing him for more than a year.

    * Jerome Rothen revealed he slammed the door shut on a glamour Premier League move to sign a deal with Rangers.

    * Darren O’Dea signed on at Reading and then insisted he’ll be back up the road in no time to nail down his place as a Celtic stalwart.

    Cottagers Tie Up Duff Deal
    August 18, 2009, 7:58 PM
    Filed under: premier league | Tags: , ,

    Damien Duff is convinced he has joined a club going places after signing a three-year deal at Fulham.

    The fee with Newcastle for the 30-year-old has not been disclosed, but is believed to be in the region of £4million as the north-east club come to terms with the cost of relegation to the Championship.

    The Republic of Ireland international is the latest addition to the squad.

    The Republic of Ireland international is the latest addition to the squad.

    Having made his breakthrough under Cottagers boss Roy Hodgson when they were both at Blackburn, Republic of Ireland winger Duff believes Fulham have a squad capable of building on last season’s seventh-place finish which secured a crack at the new Europa League.

    “I am happy that my move to Fulham has been completed and look forward to joining in with the rest of the squad,” said Duff, who had joined Newcastle from Chelsea during the summer of 2006.

    “Fulham had a fantastic season last year and I know having spoken to the manager in recent days that the club’s ambitions remain high and I am looking forward to the challenges ahead.”

    The Fulham manager is in no doubt Duff still has what it takes to make an impact in the top flight.

    “I am delighted to add a player of Damien Duff’s calibre to our squad, and welcome the further midfield options he provides us with,” Hodgson said on the club’s official website.

    “I have known Damien for over a decade since he broke into the first team at Blackburn when I was manager, so I am fully aware of his qualities and I am looking forward to working with him again.”

    Analysis:  The Newcastle exodus continues.  It would be a bitter pill for any Geordie to swallow.  Duff will provide the kind of competition at Craven Cottage that Fulham need.  He will push players like Dempsey and Gera for the starting eleven, particularly Dempsey as Duff prefers the left wing.  However, he may have a tough time in doing so, as Dempsey has begun to establish himself as a vital part of the Fulham squad.  Luckily for the American, he can be deployed on either flank or up front (as the United States as utilized to great success).

    Analysis:  Duff will push Gera out of the starting eleven by Christmas, sliding Dempsey over to the right wing.

    Transfer News – July 30th


    Transfer News – July 30th, 2009



  • Arsene Wenger wants Patrick Vieira to make a shock return to Arsenal.
  • Gianfranco Zola is stepping up his bid to sign a new striker after West Ham failed to muster a single shot in China.
  • Hull insist that it will take a ‘ridiculous’ bid to get Michael Turner.
  • Burnley boss Owen Coyle has been unable to sign winger Fernando Guerrero because his Ecuadorian club’s president is on holiday.
  • Kolo Toure was last night unveiled by Manchester City after sealing a £14million move.
  • Croatian forward Nikola Kalinic flew in to join troubled Portsmouth, but left without signing after a row over the £5.5million fee.
  • Portsmouth are close to sealing a shock move for ex-Southampton keeper Antti Niemi.
  • Manchester City’s injury-hit star Valeri Bojinov is poised to join Parma on loan.

    Cattermole, Liverpool and Tottenham target, is currently plying his trade at the JJB

    Cattermole, Liverpool and Tottenham target, is currently plying his trade at the JJB

  • Danny Murphy is set to sign a new one-year deal with Fulham.
  • Alvaro Arbeloa last night completed a £3.5million move from Liverpool to Real Madrid.
  • Real Madrid president Florentino Perez says signing Xabi Alonso from Liverpool is vital.
  • Ian Wright claims Patrick Vieira is going to rejoin Arsenal.
  • Aston Villa are set to make a £12million move for West Ham defender Matthew Upson.
  • Celtic boss Tony Mowbray is preparing to make a £2million bid for Sheffield United defender Matthew Kilgallon.
  • Middlesbrough defender Robert Huth could be set for a £2million move to Fulham.
  • Blackburn have pulled out of a £1.7million swoop for Celta Vigo striker Kamel Ghilas after the Algerian failed a medical.
  • Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has backed Dimitar Berbatov to finally live up to his £30.75million price tag.
  • Martin O’Neill admits that Aston Villa have to sign five players or risk stretching their threadbare squad to breaking point this season.
  • AWOL Middlesbrough star Mido is ready to take a £15,000 a-week pay cut to return to Egypt.
  • Laurent Blanc has warned Steve Bruce that he is out to scupper Sunderland’s £10million move for Marouane Chamakh.
  • Aston Villa are monitoring Robbie Keane’s situation at Tottenham following Peter Crouch’s £9million arrival from Portsmouth.

    Robbie Keane is being monitored by Aston Villa.

    Robbie Keane is being monitored by Aston Villa.

  • Inter Milan are ready to revive their interest in Chelsea midfielder Deco if Alexander Hleb backs out of a loan move to the Italian champions.
  • Newcastle last night accepted a £9million bid for Obafemi Martins from German side Wolfsburg.
  • Manchester City made a £19million bid for Everton’s Joleon Lescott last night as they completed the signing of Kolo Toure from Arsenal.
  • Liverpool are on the verge of striking a compromise deal to sell Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid and will plough part of his transfer fee into bids for Wigan midfielder Lee Cattermole and Hull defender Michael Turner.
  • Former Manchester City goalkeeper Nicky Weaver is training with Sheffield United.
  • Arsenal could bank an incredible £17million by selling Kolo Toure to Manchester City.
  • Alex McLeish is fuming with new signing Christian Benitez after he played without Birmingham’s permission.
  • Darren Bent has his heart set on a move to Sunderland, but so far the Black Cats and Tottenham cannot agree a fee.
  • Furious Kilmarnock players have threatened to strike after popular first-team coach Gary Locke was shown the door by the Rugby Park outfit.

  • Transfer News – July 19th


    July 19th, 2009



  • Rafa Benitez is ready to table a £20million offer for Ashley Young.
  • Peter Crouch is close to joining Tottenham in a £12million deal.

    Lescott is next up on Mark Hughes's wish list and valued at over £15m

    Lescott is next up on Mark Hughes's wish list and valued at over £15m

  • Chelsea are set to report Manchester City for “tapping up” John Terry.
  • Everton will demand £30million for defender Joleon Lescott.
  • Arsenal are poised to make a £10million offer for Bordeaux striker Marouane Chamakh.
  • Mido claims he is owed image rights money by Middlesbrough.
  • Matthew Upson is to be handed the West Ham captaincy.
  • Former Newcastle striker Lomana LuaLua is tempted by a switch to Stoke.
  • Hull want to take Manchester City striker Benjani on a season-long loan.
  • Bolton are closing in on Hull contract rebel Sam Ricketts.
  • Everton have told Manchester City Joleon Lescott will cost £30million.
  • Tottenham are ready to join Sunderland and Fulham in the battle for Peter Crouch.
  • Jason Scotland has sealed his £2million switch to Wigan from Swansea.
  • West Ham’s hopes of keeping Lucas Neill look finally to have been dashed.
  • Nottingham Forest are set to sign Chris Gunter, Dexter Blackstock and Paul McKenna.
  • Matt Kilgallon is ready to snub interest from Birmingham and Burnley by pledging his future to Sheffield United.
  • Rob Hulse is a target for Middlesbrough.
  • Gary Megson is ready to hijack Portsmouth’s £2million move for Hull’s contract rebel Sam Ricketts.
  • Aston Villa are keeping tabs on Leicester young gun Andy King.
  • Norwich will sign Preston winger Simon Whaley this week in a £100,000 deal.
  • Barnsley are set to complete a £600,000 deal for Charlton striker Andy Gray.
  • The Valencia playmaker is on Rafa Benitez's hit list

    The Valencia playmaker is on Rafa Benitez's hit list

  • Chelsea are ready to report Manchester City to the Premier League for tapping up John Terry.
  • Having failed with an £18million offer for Ashley Young, Tottenham are ready to beat Aston Villa in the chase for Leeds’ Fabian Delph.
  • Arsenal are to launch a cut-price move for Obafemi Martins.
  • Chelsea will make one last attempt to sign David Villa this week.
  • Manchester United want £2million for right-back Richard Eckersley, who has joined Burnley.
  • Portsmouth hope to re-sign Benjani from Manchester City.
  • James McCarthy is swaying towards joining Wigan ahead of Wolves.
  • Rafa Benitez will rubber-stamp Xabi Alonso’s £32million move to Real Madrid, providing he gets all the money up front.
  • Everton hope to complete a £3million deal for Rasmus Elm on Sunday.
  • Blackburn are looking at Croatian striker Armando Mance.
  • Wolves are winning the chase for £2.5million-rated Nantes midfield star Guirane N’Daw.
  • West Brom will move for Derby’s Paul Green if Jonathan Greening leaves the club.
  • Middlesbrough are set to sign Charlton captain Nick Bailey in a £750,000 deal.
  • John Terry’s relationship with Chelsea is at breaking point.
  • West Ham are set to offer Matthew Upson their captaincy in a bid to keep him at the club.
  • Sulaiman Al Fahim’s takeover of Portsmouth is under threat from a Premier League investigation.
  • Chelsea and Tottenham are ready to offer David Beckham a Premier League lifeline.
  • Liverpool are closing in on David Silva, increasing the likelihood of Xabi Alonso joining Real Madrid.
  • James McCarthy admits he is still agonising over whether to join Wigan or Wolves.
  • Falkirk could be set to sign Dutch goalkeeper Barry Dietwig.
  • Craig Levein has handed Portsmouth kid Joe Collins the chance to win a deal at Tannadice.
  • Rumours Pure, unadulterated rumours from around the internet.  Many claim to have inside connections, or themselves be connected with clubs.  Don’t believe it all, but if it makes you feel better…go ahead and believe it.

    • Hull City are in talks with “bad boy” Joey Barton of Newcastle
    • Xabi Alonso’s move from Liverpool to Real Madrid is set to be finalized this week.  The money from the sale will be put towards long-time transfer target David Silva…as well as Alberto Aquilani of Roma for £12m.
    • John Terry’s father is urging his son to follow through with a move to Manchester City due to his high wages.
    • Marouane Chamakh is certain to sign at Arsenal, but will not fit into the starting XI.
    • Martin O’Neill is ready to part ways with in-demand winger Ashley Young with several top clubs vying for his signature.
    • Aston Villa have agreed an £8m deal to sign Fabian Delph from Leeds United.
    • Part of Emmanuel Adebayor’s departure was due to the fact that he didn’t get on well with several other team members.  Despite the fact that the manager rated him very highly, Wenger didn’t want to disrupt the chemistry.

    Owen Confident of United Fitness
    July 13, 2009, 10:04 AM
    Filed under: premier league | Tags: , ,

    Michael Owen is desperate to shrug off the injury-prone tag that Manchester United’s new recruit feels he has unfairly been given.

    Owen will get the chance to spearhead United’s attack this season following Sir Alex Ferguson’s surprise statement that he will not be doing any more transfer business this summer.

    The Englishman has reassured critics that he will be fit for United.

    The Englishman has reassured critics that he will be fit for United.

    He will do so wearing the number seven shirt vacated by Cristiano Ronaldo and accompanied by a great deal of scepticism about his general fitness, a situation Fabio Capello has reflected on more than one occasion has kept Owen out of England contention.

    Yet the former Liverpool star does not feel the facts bear out such opinions.

    Although he accepts a broken metatarsal and subsequent cruciate knee ligament injury, caused as a direct result of rushing back to action too quickly in order to appear at the 2006 World Cup, wrecked his first two years at Newcastle, with 33 and 32 appearances to his name in the second half of a four-year deal, Owen believes there is little wrong with his body.

    “It does irritate me that so many people have doubts,” he said.

    “But if there is one thing I am angered by, the injury thing would be it.

    “There is no doubt I have had injuries in my career. But there is a long list of players that have had a broken metatarsal.

    “I was foolish trying to rush back for the World Cup and my leg had just come out of plaster.

    “But I played 33 and 32 games in the last two years in a team that was not in Europe and did not go on a decent cup run. Still I was continually labelled injury-prone, which gets up my nose.

    “I am 29 and have played over 500 games for club and country. That says it all.”

    What Owen does accept the need to prove is the retention of ability that has made him only the fourth striker in England history to score 40 goals for his country.

    “In certain parts, people do have a justification to have a go at me,” he said.

    “I didn’t set the world alight in the last year at Newcastle. That is no-one’s fault but mine. We were not playing well as a team and I wasn’t doing my bit either.”

    His observation clearly didn’t put Ferguson off signing a player he spent so many years trying to stop, but the United manager does not feel Owen was helped by the handling he received during the early years.

    Ferguson has still not forgotten sending Ronnie Wallwork and John Curtis away to Malaysia in 1997 as part of an England Youth team Owen was also part of and noting that while his players returned to a six-week break, their young team-mate was unleashed on the Premier League by Liverpool and followed up with his momentous appearance the World Cup in France, when his career was really ignited.

    “I remember it well,” said Ferguson.

    “I remember saying at the time it was unfair to have that strain and intensity of matches at big tournaments, one summer after another, with no summer break.”

    Ferguson freely admits that while he monitored Owen during the final year of his contract at Newcastle, knowing the Chester-born star could leave St James’ Park for nothing at the season’s end, he probably would not have swooped had Karim Benzema not been caught up in the whirlwind that has become Real Madrid’s summer spending spree.

    However, once Benzema opted to link up with Ronaldo and Kaka, Ferguson went for Owen.

    And, while plenty of supporters have their doubts, he is convinced the move will be a fruitful one for all parties.

    “Michael gives us experience in the penalty box, which is vital,” said Ferguson.

    “He has always had that little knack of losing defenders in the last third.

    “I know he will score a lot of goals for us. He has been great at that for years.”

    Fellow new signing Antonio Valencia, meanwhile, is adamant he was not signed to replace Ronaldo.

    “I have mentioned this a few times in the past when I first spoke to Manchester United it was never said that I was coming to replace Cristiano Ronaldo,” he said.

    “Obviously he did very well here because he is a great player but I am here to do the things that I do well.

    “I have got a real desire to succeed and I will never compare myself to him.”


    Analysis:  We’ll I’ll believe it when I see it.  He’s been injured too much to just make a statement that he’s fit and expect us to believe it.  However if he is fit and can stay fit, Owen could be a real menace in the Premier League.  He’s a proven goal scorer and has one of the most natural goal scoring instincts I’ve ever seen (in his early days).  If Ferguson can keep him healthy, opposition should take note.

    Owen on the Brink of Sensational Move to Old Trafford
    July 3, 2009, 5:52 PM
    Filed under: premier league, Transfer | Tags: , ,

    Michael Owen was on the verge of joining English champion Manchester United on Friday, a striking reversal of fortunes for an injury-plagued striker who had been consigned to the England scrapheap by Fabio Capello.

    Out of contract at recently relegated Newcastle, the 29-year-old Owen’s advisers had been forced to trumpet his enduring qualities and scotch fitness fears in a 32-page dossier speculatively sent to clubs around Europe.

    Though the likes of Wigan and Bolton had dismissed Owen as past his best, Alex Ferguson is willing to take – as United’s official Web site says – a “calculated gamble.”

    The former Real Madrid and Liverpool player spent Friday at the Premier League champion’s Carrington training complex and a Manchester hospital for final medical examinations on his troublesome right knee.

    Michael Owen could make a controversial swap to Manchester United, as he tries to leave his Liverpool days behind him.

    Owen will try and leave his Liverpool days behind him as he prepares his move to Old Trafford.

    Ferguson needs a proven goalscorer to replace Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez, who both left United last month.

    And despite being British football’s most successful manager, Ferguson has struggled to attract top-class talent after United was humbled by Barcelona in the Champions League final loss in May. The 67-year-old Scot has been snubbed by Karim Benzema, who opted to leave Lyon to join Ronaldo and Kaka at Madrid, and by Franck Ribery, who is set to stay at Bayern Munich.

    Even United’s Web site acknowledges that the club will be portrayed as “the mugs who are left rummaging around bargain bins while Real sweep the shelves.”

    “It’s not often Sir Alex misses out on a player he covets, but he’s had it happen enough times to know not to panic buy in response,” said. “The signing of Owen would buy some time to reassess future signings, while not compromising the present.”

    With no signing on fee, what Owen will be is cheap. United is set to offer the free agent a modest salary that is unlikely to reach the 110,000 pounds ($180,000) he was receiving each week at Newcastle. However, that could rise if he can rediscover his formerly rich scoring form.

    Goals, though, were lacking at Newcastle, with Owen scoring just 10 times in 32 matches as the northeast club was relegated to the League Championship in May.

    He featured in just 79 matches, scoring 30 goals in the four seasons since the Magpies paid a club-record 16 million pounds in 2005 to rescue him after a torrid year in Madrid.

    As his Newcastle fortunes waned as his roll call of injuries lengthened – groin, calf, ankle, thigh, hernia, metatarsal and knee ligament to date – so did his England career.

    That had begun with such devastating style in 1998 when, within months of his debut, the 18-year-old Owen dazzled the globe with a superb solo goal against Argentina at the World Cup.

    But since featuring in a friendly 15 months ago against France and later picking up a calf strain, Capello has shown no desire to give Owen a 90th appearance for England.

    Joining United may not only resurrect his club career, but give him a chance of playing at a fourth World Cup as he would be reunited with Capello’s first-choice forward Wayne Rooney at Old Trafford.

    Owen is the only player to score for England in four major tournaments, and he also played in a fifth, the 2006 World Cup in Germany, but he damaged knee ligaments early in a group game against Sweden.

    Owen’s recent woes have overshadowed a once flourishing career. When still feared by opponents, his goals helped Liverpool win two League Cups, an FA Cup and a UEFA Cup between 2001 and ’03.

    Since he left Anfield for Real Madrid in 2004, however, he has won nothing.

    Analysis:  I don’t think too many people could have predicted this.  Sir Alex Ferguson was being linked with Benzema, Villa and Fabiano (still interest there).  But taking Michael Owen on a pay-as-you-play deal wasn’t something I saw coming.  The injury prone striker will be a risk for United, but his partnership with Rooney in the World Cup is clearly something Ferguson is interested in trying to emulate.  Surely this can’t be Ferguson’s striker signing.  He has to just be a backup, doesn’t he?  Granted, if he can stay fit and get his confidence back, the former European Footballer of the Year could make an impact for the Premiership Champions.

    Result:  I think Ferguson still has a few tricks up his sleeve, and will be signing another striker, which could condemn Owen to the bench.  If he thinks he can keep Owen fit (cross your fingers), then he may be happy with what he’s got.  But what a deal for Owen, he was confined to sending a brochure around to clubs with his credentials, with Hull looking the most likely target…I don’t even think Michael thought he’d end up at Old Trafford.