MANCHESTER, July 14 – Michael Owen insisted Monday he still has the desire to prove himself at the highest level.Owen joined Manchester United last week on a two-year deal – with an option for a third season – following the conclusion of his contract at Newcastle United.
After a sensational start to his career for both Liverpool and England, Owen’s form has been in gradual decline due to a succession of serious injuries in recent times.
He has suffered numerous hamstring problems as well as undergoing major surgery three years ago after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament at the 2006 World Cup.
Those injuries robbed Owen of the lightening pace that had been such a crucial part of his armoury and in his four years at Newcastle United, he scored 30 goals in just 78 appearances.
However, despite the opinion that Owen’s injuries have curtailed his impact at football’s highest level, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has placed faith in him and offered him the opportunity to prove his doubters wrong.
Owen said: "I feel like I belong at a top club and I am delighted to be here. I am hungry to do well and if this challenge doesn’t create a hunger and put a spring in your step and a smile on your face then nothing will.
"I am as hungry as ever and I don’t think I need to prove it to the people who have asked that.
"Obviously when a club and manager like this comes in for you that says it all for me.
"I honestly believe I can still do well in a top team like Manchester United."
And Owen was eager to defend his recent record and refutes the idea that he is an injury prone footballer.
He added: "There is no doubt that I have had injuries in my career but then most people have.
"You continually see over the last two years that I have been ‘continually plagued’ with injuries but there is no facts in that whatsoever.
"I played 33 and 32 games in the last two years.
"We were not in Europe at Newcastle nor did we have any long cup runs and there’s only 38 games in a Premier League season so playing 33 and 32 games is not too bad.
"In the two years previous to that I was injured but it was nothing to do with being injury prone."
Ferguson praised the desire of Owen to prove his critics wrong and is confident the 28-year-old can rediscover the scoring touch that made him one of Europe’s most feared strikers.
The United manager said: "His experience is vital and with Michael you will see the experience he will give us in the penalty box.
"There is no question that he will score a lot of goals for us and he has been great for years and years.
"You always have to be aware of him in the last third."