Owen to United Shows Hard Lesson for the Premier League Elite

02 July 2009

Not much in football surprises me. Reading reports that Michael Owen is set to complete a move to Manchester United, however, did.

For Michael Owen, this is a great move. At 29, this was his last chance to make an impact in any top flight. It also gives him an opportunity to prove to Fabio Capello that he is still worthy of the Three Lions shirt. With Rooney at the club, it would be a good way to show that the partnership can work. My guess would be Owen up top with Rooney in behind. To make matters better for Owen, it ends all the talk of him going to either Stoke City or Hull City. While Aston Villa and Everton had a shout of picking up the player, I don't think the pay packet would still have suited Owen (despite the pay cut he's taking to play at Manchester United).

For Manchester United, this move almost reads of desperation. Not 48 hours ago, they were linked to Karim Benzema. Today they are picking apart the dead carcass of Newcastle United. Granted Michael Owen is still a highly competent player, but the time spent out injured of late has to raise some red flag. Yes when healthy, Owen still scores on average every other game. That's the problem though; there is no recent history that shows that Michael Owen can stay healthy over the course of the season. Make no mistakes about it, despite the relatively small price tag (free transfer and reportedly incentive based contract), this is a gamble of the highest sorts.

On a whole however, this should send a loud and clear message to the Premier League elite. That message: just because it's England and just because it's the Premier League, don't expect to see too many elite players sign this summer and for many more summers to come. Yes, I know that is a bitter pill to swallow for many who follow the English game, but it's the frank truth. While the economy is bad everywhere, the final nail in the coffin happened earlier this year when the British House of Commons, in effect, cut footballer's salaries in half. It's what has Arshavin unhappy with Arsenal. It's also going to make it very difficult for players to make England a first choice destination for top foreign talent.

Let's face it, while these are very talented players, their wage packet nowadays comes first. When you can keep more of your money in Germany, Italy, or Spain, you are going to move their first. The allure of the Premier League has been destroyed over the past couple years with the articles about foreign players complaining about the horrible weather and even worse food. On the footballing front, England is one of the least technical leagues amongst the big leagues in the world. While the last point doesn't bother me, I know it has to bother some players who go to training and see bad training practices day in and day out. I wouldn't be surprised if, when it's all said and done, we see a mass exodus of foreign players next summer.

If the last forty-eight hours haven't shown those who follow the Premier League is in for a bumpy ride, then I would love to take a visit to your never never land when I need a break from reality. While it maybe a good move for Michael Owen, it's a sure sign the Premier League could be in for some lean times ahead.

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Johnathan Starling, the self proclaimed 'most brutally honest man on the net, dishes out his own unique brand of opinions, and analysis on the Premier League, Bundesliga, and all things US Soccer.

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