Sir Alex Ferguson has handed Michael Owen a shock lifeline at Manchester United in the form of a one-year contract extension.Owen was widely expected to be a casualty at Old Trafford in the off-season as struggles with fitness and the meteoric rise of Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez combined to limit the 31-year-old’s playing time.
The former Liverpool striker started just one Premier League game for the English champions last season, his second at Old Trafford after moving from Newcastle United.
Nevertheless, Owen made it clear he wanted to stay at United even in a bit-part capacity, and the club has granted his wish.
“I’m delighted to have agreed a one-year extension to my contract,” Owen said.
“To play alongside so many great players, under an exceptional manager, and in front of so many incredibly passionate supporters, is a real inspiration. I can’t wait for next season to start.”
Ferguson stunned many when he handed Owen a spot on the bench for United’s Champions League final against Barcelona on Saturday, ahead of joint league top-scorer Dimitar Berbatov.
Perhaps mindful of an exodus of experience at Old Trafford following the retirements of Paul Scholes and Edwin van der Sar, the manager said he was delighted to have retained Owen and committed to giving him more opportunities in the next campaign.
“Michael has proved to be a top footballer,” Ferguson said.
“It’s unfortunate Michael didn’t get more opportunities but the form of Chicharito put everyone in the shade and his partnership with Rooney proved invaluable.”
“I am delighted Michael is staying for a further year and we will look to give him more opportunities in the new season.”