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Owen accepts scrutiny

Published 24/08/2009

Michael Owen is resigned to the fact that his scoring record will always be questioned until the day he retires.

The 29-year-old striker got off the mark for Manchester United in the 5-0 victory against Wigan at the DW Stadium.

Owen stepped off the bench to get on the end of a good ball from Nani and the finish in the 85th minute was emphatic.

It was the perfect answer to the critics who claimed he had little to offer the champions.

Owen arrived last month as a free agent after leaving relegated Newcastle — his management company having distributed a brochure reminding clubs of his ability.

An ankle injury and a groin operation disrupted his final year on Tyneside but his overall contribution of 30 goals in 65 starts commands respect.

So too does his England tally — 40 in 89 international appearances — and three league games in to his United career he showed against Wigan he can still deliver.

United were rampant in the second half with Wayne Rooney grabbing a brace to break the 100-goal mark for the club. Dimitar Berbatov and Nani also found the target in the romp.

Owen said: “I've missed a couple since the season started and, as ever, everyone is quick to write you off. It was as if I hadn't scored for a couple of years.

“That's something I've had to deal with for 10-odd years now and I don't think that will change until I hang up my boots.

“It was certainly a great feeling to score.

“I probably scored the hardest chance I've had. I had two chances at Burnley and one against Birmingham, but this was the fourth real opportunity I've had.”

Owen is keen to kick on and in the process perhaps catch the eye of England manager Fabio Capello.

“I'd be disappointed if people didn't think I could go on from here,” he said.

“I obviously believe I can as I have done throughout my career and I certainly expect to score more goals in the red shirt.”

United had to wait until the 56th minute before making the breakthrough with Rooney reaching his milestone with a header into the corner. Berbatov extended the lead after fooling goalkeeper Chris Kirkland before Rooney added his second with a close range effort.

Rooney played down his achievement.

“I have not really thought about it, “ he said.

“I know there are still plenty of games and plenty of goals left in me. It is something I will reflect on when I finish playing.”

Nani wrapped things up in stoppage time with a blistering 25-yard free-kick and manager Sir Alex Ferguson was pleased there was no repeat after the humbling by Burnley.

He added: “You have got to react to defeat and it is always a challenge. But we got a really good response today.

“When you are making chances and don’t take them it is a worry. But the important thing is to have the patience to keep playing and keep believing and we did that.”

Wigan have lost two of their first three games but manager Roberto Martinez is heartened by the arrival of midfielder Mohamed Diame from Rayo Vallecano.

The 22-year-old Frenchman was handed his debut after sealing his move in the hours before kick-off.

Martinez said: “We are really excited to have him here at our club.”

Belfast Telegraph

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