Rooney backs Owen to shine
Wayne Rooney is predicting Michael Owen's move to Manchester United will give him a new lease of life. The 29-year-old's career appeared to be heading for the buffers until Sir Alex Ferguson stepped in with the offer of a two-year contract which could turn out to be one of the Scot's masterstrokes.
Nothing too much will be read into Owen's goal at the Bukit Jalil Stadium, which gave United a 3-2 win over a Malaysian Select XI they will also face at the same venue later today. However, Rooney can sense his former England strike partner is ready to explode again.
"Over the last couple of years Michael has had some criticism, but it would have been difficult for any player to score in the Newcastle team he was in last season," said Rooney. "He looked really sharp in training.
"He is working very hard and you could see by the way all the lads celebrated with him how pleased they were for him when he scored. This move will give him a new lease of life."
The same could also be said for Rooney, who opened United's account with a tap-in on Saturday and then set Nani up for their second. For if one man is going to profit from Cristiano Ronaldo's world record £80m exit, it is surely the former Everton player given he can now abandon his station on the wing and resume a forward role in which Fabio Capello feels he has few peers in the world game.
"We haven't spoken about it but I am sure that is where I'll play," he said. "Everyone knows it's my best position. I enjoy it more than being out on the flanks - it's less work and you get more chances to score. As a forward that's what you want."
Like Owen, Rooney knows it will take a collective effort to cover the 67 goals from the last two seasons Ronaldo left as his legacy before moving to Real Madrid. The pair might have had their differences on the international field, but Rooney's respect for the Portugal superstar's abilities is immense.
"I have spoken to Cristiano since he left and wished him well," he said. "He was a great player for Manchester United but it was his wish to go and I think the club have respected that.
"Both for the club and Cristiano himself it was a good deal. The money we got for him was unbelievable. We don't feel let down by him. We always knew he was going to go sometime."