The retired striker backs the new Old Trafford boss to get the wantaway England international firing again and warns that Luis Suarez is vital to Liverpool's top-four hopes
By Gary Maiden
Former Manchester United striker Michael Owen believes that Wayne Rooney can rediscover his best form if new Old Trafford boss David Moyes makes him feel wanted.
The 27-year-old has been linked with a move away from Old Trafford ever since Sir Alex Ferguson revealed that he had asked to leave the club in May, and speculation over his future intensified on Thursday after he flew home from United's pre-season tour of Asia having picked up a hamstring injury that could rule him out action for up to a month.
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"I think the one thing with Wayne is Robin van Persie coming in last year and being the focal point, being the main centre forward in Sir Alex's eyes, and the game against Real Madrid when he left Wayne out," Owen told Goal.
"That will have hurt, that hurts your pride - especially when you're Wayne Rooney, someone that's been top dog for virtually every team he's played for.
"So I think it’s important for Wayne to feel wanted again, to feel loved again, to feel as if he's the top man again and, if David Moyes can make him feel like that and the fans are on his side, then I'm sure he can get back to banging the goals in next season."
Moyes officially began his United reign at the start of July and, while Owen acknowledges that the Scot will be looking to put his own stamp on the team, he is convinced that the new boss will be an excellent addition in keeping with the traditions of the club.
"David Moyes has had a great career so far; he's done wonders at Everton and you'd think he's got all the attributes to take over at Manchester United," the 33-year-old continued.
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"But he's brought in his own staff as well and, inevitably, the coaching will be slightly different, the team he picks will be slightly different, so there will be some slight differences.
"Everybody is going to be waiting with eagle eyes looking at what's going to happen and whether they can continue the dominance they've had for the last 25 years under Sir Alex."
Owen, who came through the youth ranks at Liverpool and went on to make almost 300 appearances for the Anfield outfit, backs the Reds to capitalise on managerial changes at the top of the table and challenge for the top four with the right signings.
"I break it down, the top five or six teams you look at Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea all with new managers," observed Owen.
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"But, going onto Liverpool and Arsenal, I think the transfer market is pretty big for them. One, not losing their main players – obviously, in Liverpool's case, Luis Suarez – they do not want to be losing him and, adding to the squad, I think it's a huge transfer window for Liverpool. If they can get one or two top players in then, yes, I think they could possibly break into the top four again."
Suarez was the Reds' top goalscorer last season, with only Van Persie netting more times in the Premier League, and Owen argues that it is "vital" that Brendan Rodgers hangs onto his star player, with Arsenal preparing a £35m bid.
"It's vital to keep hold of him," he warned. "You ask most Liverpool fans, they will say it's important to keep him. It's always worrying, I think his agent came out and made a few waves about him potentially leaving.
"So that's got to be a worry because he's proven over the last year or two he can score goals, plenty of them. He's a world-class player, he does so much for the team, bringing other players into play, he can play up front on his own or with someone. He's a genuine world-class player so it's vital Liverpool keep hold of him."
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Michael Owen was speaking at the launch of Shinpad Insurance, a new online football injury insurance specialist for grassroots players. Designed by footballers for footballers, Shinpad offers individuals and teams a range of products and packages. For more information and to buy your policy go to www.shinpadinsurance.com