Thursday, August 23, 2007

Fright night

It's OK - you can come out from behind the sofa now: the England game's over and Michael Owen managed not to sustain serious injury for the 57 minutes for which he was on the Wembley turf. Hallelujah.

Partnered in attack by converted Toon midfielder Alan Smith - who was preferred, rather bizarrely, to Jermain Defoe but who showed some neat touches despite being starved of possession - Owen could and probably should have scored twice late in the first half, once England had gone 2-1 behind. His first opportunity came from a lovely flighted cross but his diving header was brilliantly saved by Jens Lehmann. The Arsenal 'keeper was erratic otherwise, and presented Owen with a simple chance to equalise a few minutes later, but he somehow put the ball wide. At that range, and with an open goal, the excuse of rustiness doesn't really wash.

Owen and Smith were replaced in a double substitution by Peter Crouch and Kieron Dyer, who started brightly but then fluffed two fantastic opportunities himself so we can at least rest assured that he hasn't finally come good yet.

Judging by the Martins-to-Man-Utd rumours, we could be seeing Owen and Smith up front together on a regular basis. I'd be hugely disappointed if we were to flog Oba to Taggart, but Fat Sam seems to feel differently - his comments essentially constitute an invitation to make a bid: "I have had no contact from any club, either in this country or any other wanting to activate his clause". Perhaps he can't see beyond the prospect of raking in £13m to offset the cost of two or three new players (Abdoulaye Faye and Juliano Belletti among them).

Meanwhile, the club has had to deny speculation that Mike Ashley, having discovered the reality of the financial situation, is already looking to sell the club to an Icelandic consortium. So where's the stability we were all expecting or at least hoping for, then?

Could be worse, though - we could be Spurs fans...


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