Owen drops retirement hint
Michael Owen has revealed he would rather sit on Manchester United's bench than be a first-team regular at a lesser team in the Premier League.
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But Owen, who is set for more time on the sidelines due to a new hamstring injury suffered in training, is in the final season of a two-year deal and there have been no talks with manager Sir Alex Ferguson about a contract extension.
With Dimitar Berbatov and now Javier Hernandez in red-hot form, Wayne Rooney newly commited to the club and youngster Federico Macheda also in the frame it's hard to see Owen adding to his meagre 14 starts in 15 months in the near future.
Just six of those opportunities have come in the Premier League but Owen, 30, insists he'd rather warm United's bench for the sake of being surrounded by quality when he does play rather than toil away up front for a "poorer" Premier League team.
"I won't drop down the leagues and whether I would even want to drop down to a poorer Premier League team ... I don't know," he told the Guardian. "Yes, I could score goals, but I would probably get less opportunities and less enjoyment. I think I'd rather play less and train with top players, rather than playing every minute of every game, getting three or four touches and not enjoying it."
Given Owen's attitude towards playing at a lesser standard than United, there's even a chance he could think of retiring at the end of the season when his United deal runs out - if his wish of a new contract isn't granted.
"It's a question for the manager really, but if you ask my opinion I would love to stay. I never thought I would start every game when I joined the club and I have never complained about anything. Honestly, I've loved it here. I signed a two-year contract, I'm only 60% into that and hopefully we will talk [about extending it] before the end of the season."
Owen admitted he may have actually peaked as a teenager. The former England striker has been plagued by injury throughout his career and although he has adjusted his game over the years, his best strength was his pace, which started to diminish as soon as his early twenties due to problems with his body.
"They had taken something away by the time I was 21, to be honest," Owen said. "At 18 to 20, I was probably one of the quickest things around, at the peak of my powers. But what can you do? I can play different ways now. I can link play better now, I can do things I couldn't do when I was younger. And you never lose the instinct of being a goalscorer, of knowing where the ball is going to drop. It can just take a bit longer to get into that position now."