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The Camden Cad
Aug 24, 2004
North London
Today, more than ever, we need to understand the importance of recycling. We live in a world of diminishing resources, held together by the discredited remains of unbridled capitalism. Only through use and re-use of our assets, can we live greener, happier lives. All the more reason, therefore, for Rafa Benitez to stop eyeing the inflated transfer market and get on with re-signing Michael Owen.

I know, I know. There are a lot of very good reasons for leaving Owen strewn at the bottom of the bargain bucket. He's had so many injuries that some of his limbs are held together with sellotape and wallpaper paste, he's lost that crucial burst of pace that made him such a phenomenal striker and you get the feeling that his passion for the game may have waned after four years in the madhouse of St James Park. Benitez has already indicated that he has no interest in Owen, but before he consigns him to a gloomy end at Hull or Wigan, he should give it another thought. Liverpool and Owen are made for each other.

Liverpool's greatest blessing is also their most terrible curse. The 4-2-3-1 formation has been so successful that they can no longer play in 4-4-2 . The axis of Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres is so effective that it's impossible to ignore. Move Gerrard out of the free role to allow a second striker and you waste his talents while alienating him at the same time. So who covers for Fernando Torres? A big-name striker? Not likely after what happened with Robbie Keane. You can't pay all that money for a footballer and then leave him on the bench without making him feel worthless. So how about a youngster? Well, that's not much of an option either, especially as Liverpool tend not to give their academy players much of a chance. Gerrard was the last youth player to win a regular starting place at Anfield. As for David N'Gog, no-one knows if he is capable of playing as a lone striker, and as Benitez is unlikely to give him a run in the team, we're unlikely to learn through a series of five or ten minute cameos.

Owen offers that proven class. His pace may have dropped, but only to the level of most mortals. He still has that incredible eye for goal, the cold-blooded composure in the six yard box. Even with all of those injuries and all of that upheaval, he still racked up goals for Newcastle when he played. And his fitness problems? Hardly a surprise given that Newcastle insisted on throwing him back into action as soon as he could walk. With patience and understanding, Owen might finally get the chance to recover from all of these knocks.

Liverpool could use him as a back-up for Torres in the less important games, allowing him to rebuild his shattered confidence, while simultaneously working on the tensile strength of his hamstrings. And how much would it cost? Nothing, apart from wages that will presumably be tied into a pay-as-you-play deal whether he signs for Real Madrid or Accrington Stanley.

It's quite clear that Benitez is dealing with a reduced transfer kitty this summer and he's already spent most of that on Glen Johnson. If he is willing to go green and recycle, there's a bargain waiting for him. He alone can save one of England's best ever strikers from entering the twilight of his career at an unfashionable bottom-half side and grant him a glorious renaissance at a title challenging side.