Goal-shy Liverpool have another former legend in their sights
Could Liverpool’s sluggish start to the season prompt the return of a former Kop hero turned villain?
After three games, two goals, one point and, alarmingly, no back up in the goalscoring department, a price of 7/1 for Liverpool to finish this season in the bottom half has increased in appeal.
The loaning of Andy Carroll to now potential rivals West Ham and missing out on Clint Dempsey, Brendan Rodgers must now sift through the free agent market to bulk up his perilously thin squad that has failed to find the back of the net in two of their opening three games.
The most high-profile of these candidates is Michael Owen – the once revered but now resented hit man who fraternised with the Reds’ fiercest rivals for the past three years.
Rodgers refused to rule out a move for Owen after seeing Arsenal claim all three points at Anfield but the former England international’s record since leaving in 2004 provides damning evidence to support the widely accepted notion that his best years are way behind him.
In the 138 games he’s appeared in since packing his bags for Real Madrid, Owen has found the net 44 times, just five in his Manchester United tenure.
Unfortunately, he has spent more time in the past eight years troubling physios than centre backs, and the impact this has had on his game means he could never be expected to reproduce the same levels which saw him notch 118 goals in 216 games during his Liverpool career.
His time on the treatment table has all but extinguished his once lightning-quick pace and his meagre goal tally at United, where starts were restricted, suggests he lacks the ability to fulfil the impact substitute role he would be expected to carry out should he return to Merseyside.
Historically, Liverpool have not been adverse to bringing back a goal-getting icon.
In addition to Kenny Dalglish’s unflattering managerial second-coming, Robbie Fowler also enjoyed a second spell at Anfield in the twilight of his career. He bagged eight goals in 30 games in which he performed squad player duties in a year which Liverpool went on to reach the Champions League.
Owen’s return could provide some similar momentum for the beleaguered Reds who have made their worst start to a league season since 2003/04; a year which saw them eventually secure a top four berth.
Champions League qualification seems beyond their capabilities this term but, for a club of Liverpool’s stature, failing to finish outside the top six is disastrous, the bottom half doesn’t bear thinking about yet, despite their start, this remains unlikely.
They haven’t achieved so poorly in the 58 years since they were last relegated.
Worryingly for Liverpool fans is the fact that their club started that season by going unbeaten in their first three, netting nine times in the process.
A bottom half finish, let alone relegation will have been of least concern on the Kop that year too, no doubt.
Rodgers’ will now be desperate for goals and points in order to dispel any murmurs of his side slipping into a scrap in the Premier League’s lower echelons akin to Aston Villa last term – former Champions League contenders whose inability to score goals saw them plummet into the bottom half.