Sam Allardyce's obvious uncertainty regarding the future of Michael Owen at Newcastle United has been revealed in a conversation Allardyce has had recently with Sven Goran Eriksson. Having read stories that Manchester City were set to make an offer for Owen in January, Allardyce contacted Eriksson to ascertain the level of truth and was informed that due to concerns expressed by City's Thai owner Thaksin Shinawatra about Owen's injuries, City will not be making an offer.
Allardyce's degree of relief is not known – nor is Eriksson's happiness about Shinawatra's opinion – but the news rules out at least one possible buyer in the transfer window. City could still pursue their interest in Owen at the end of the season, when Owen will have one year left on his Newcastle contract.
Temporarily, the news from Eriksson will be reassuring to Allardyce given that Obafemi Martins will be on African Nations Cup duty with Nigeria in January and Shola Ameobi is expected to move on, with Norwich City interested.
With Mark Viduka having been injury-prone during his five months on Tyneside, Allardyce must have been considering his attacking potential, though Alan Smith's improved form since he was moved back to his natural forward role gives Newcastle another option.
Owen would have cost City £8m in January and Allardyce would have been able to plan how to spend that money. Now it is unclear just how much finance Allardyce has for the next transfer window but the interest in Manchester United's Wes Brown is said to be mutual. Brown recently rejected a new contract at Old Trafford and can leave at the end of the season for free, but Newcastle could offer a fee next month in an attempt to sign the England defender then.