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British papers split on Owen's United move

sports Updated: Jul 04, 2009 11:37 IST

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Britain's newspapers on Saturday could not decide if Michael Owen's surprise move to Manchester United represented another canny swoop by Sir Alex Ferguson -- or a waste of money on an injury-prone player.

Owen, 29, was snapped up after becoming a free agent when his Newcastle contract expired last week. The injury-prone star, who scored just ten goals last season, is reported to be on a "pay as you play" deal.

Ferguson has insisted the move is no gamble given Owen's high calibre history but there was some scepticism among commentators.

"He simply cannot sustain a run of games," the Daily Mail said. "He plays, he gets injured, as an ankle heals, a groin muscle rips. When he returns, a knee ligament goes."

But the Guardian hailed the signing of a "proven poacher" which Old Trafford had lacked since the days of Ruud van Nistelrooy and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

"For all the efforts of the departed Cristiano Ronaldo, United do not score as freely as they once did," it said.

The paper also highlighted Ferguson's history of gambling on players such as Eric Cantona -- who ended up becoming an Old Trafford legend -- and Laurent Blanc.

The Daily Express thought Owen could be used "as a more than useful back-up striker to Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov and one whose presence buys Ferguson a bit of time while he develops young talents such as Federico Macheda".

Former Arsenal and England striker Ian Wright wrote in the Sun that Owen had seemed to "lose his desire" in recent years.

"He needed a kick up the backside and Alex Ferguson will provide that," Wright wrote. "He is going to United to salvage his career for club and country."