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Owen proud to be at United

Michael Owen

Michael Owen insists there is nowhere he would rather be than Manchester United.

Given his lack of appearances last term, it came as something of a surprise this summer when manager Sir Alex Ferguson handed Owen a new one-year contract. The 31-year-old readily accepted, even though, with seven strikers on the present United States tour, competition for places will be huge.

"I am at the best team to be at," said Owen. "Where would you go from here? Every game is important. The only way is down. It is exciting to be part of a squad that is always competitive."

He added: "There are so many games in a season at Manchester United. We probably play 20 or 30 more than a normal Premier League side, so there are lots to go round. You never know when the manager is going to call on you and it is exciting to be part of that."

Owen has scored goals in both United's pre-season games and with the heat returning after a huge thunderstorm on Friday, is virtually certain to play some part in Saturday night's clash with local MLS outfit Chicago Fire.

Ferguson has already confirmed David de Gea will start, whilst fellow Under-21 internationals Danny Welbeck, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are also set to play ahead of Javier Hernandez's planned arrival at the weekend.

For Smalling and Jones, it is the start of a battle to try and displace Rio Ferdinand and skipper Nemanja Vidic. It appears a forlorn hope. But it is not one even Ferdinand feels they should be scared of.

"They can't be in awe of me," said Ferdinand. "If they are, they will get shipped out. Your desire has to be to play.

"I remember what I was like when I was young, looking up at Slaven Bilic, Marc Rieper, Alvin Martin and Steve Potts at West Ham. I was only a kid but I used to sit on the bench and think I should be playing. I am sure these guys think the same thing.

"They are all talented footballers and, I believe, Manchester United players. At some point I am sure they will take over the reins. But I am competitive and I don't want to be giving up my position to anybody. My task is to prove I am hungrier than them."