One of the biggest talking points in football over the past week has been deadline day and Michael Owen, after the striker was left without a club on September 1st, before agreeing a deal at Stoke City earlier this week. In one of his first interviews since signing for the Potters, we spoke to Michael to see how he feels about the move and getting back on the pitch. Here’s what he had to say:
Congratulations on finding a new club Michael – how does it feel to be a Stoke City player?
‘Thanks, I’m just on my way to my first training session, hopefully I won’t be late, don’t want to get on the wrong side of the manager this early at the club! I’m really pleased to get the move sorted and to be at Stoke, this is probably going to be the last move of my playing career so I wanted to make sure it was the right one.’
There were a lot of rumours about different clubs being interested in signing you, can you tell us any more about that?
‘There was a lot of interest from abroad, in various countries, and I’ve played overseas before and enjoyed it, but as I’ve mentioned before with my children all being in schools here and settled I didn’t really want to do that.
I’ve played at the Britannia Stadium a few times, and the fans make a great noise. There’s always a fantastic atmosphere, and I spoke to the manager two or three months ago about coming here, and I’m just glad we got it sorted out. I know one or two of the players here as well, I’ve played with Peter Crouch before and got quite a good record with him, so I’m looking forward to getting up to speed with them. It was always a club that appealed to me.’
How did it feel on deadline day, as all the other deals were being announced?
‘It was frustrating, the past few weeks have been frustrating, because I wanted to get everything sorted and get playing football. Like I said, I’d spoken to Stoke a couple of months ago, but the club had their issues to sort out for deadline day, whether they were signing any other players, certain deadlines for players with contracts, so it’s obviously a priority to sort them out first.
For various reasons I wanted to know everyone that was interested in me before making an informed decision, and that probably added to the last minute nature of everything. It does seem to be very much part of the modern transfers that everything goes down to the last minute, that’s why so many deals are done at the very last minute, when everything slots into place.’
Now that the deal has been finalised, how long do you think it’ll take for you to get up to speed?
‘Well, over the summer I’ve been doing a lot of work on my own and with physios to keep myself as fit as I possibly can, but it’s obviously a lot different to a team environment. So I’m going to go in and the club will assess where I’m up to in terms of levels and then work at getting up to match fitness. The only disappointment I’ve got is that I missed out on a pre-season with a club, which can make such a big difference, and I’ll certainly need a little bit of time to get up to speed, but I have been keeping myself in shape so I’m hoping it’ll be a couple of weeks.’
What are your ambitions for the season, both for the club and personally?
‘Over the past few years, Stoke have established themselves as a Premier League team, and speaking to the manager that magical 40 point target is always something to aim for, and then as soon as you get there you can look beyond that. Stoke have also had some great cup runs in recent years, so it’d be great to have something like that as well.
Personally, I’m not the type of player that sets goal targets or anything like that. I think the main aim for me is to have an injury-free season, to get out there and perform at the level that I know I’m capable of.’
It’s not long until Stoke play two of your old clubs, Liverpool and Manchester United. Do you look forward to these games?
‘It’s definitely a different game in a few ways, I’ve been back to Liverpool a few times already but it’ll be interesting to go back to United so soon after leaving. You do have mixed emotions when you go back – it’s nice to see everyone again, but also you want to put in a good performance for your new club and get a result for them. I’ve had a great time at every club I’ve played for, so I don’t have any particular axe to grind or anything like that, you just want to win for the team you’re playing for.’
You’re well known for being on Twitter, do you think you’ll continue now you’re a Stoke player?
‘I don’t know if the club have any particular rules around that to be honest, we’ll soon find out though! It’s part and parcel of the world we’re in now, and I’d certainly like to continue with it. I’m sure the manager won’t mind us doing it in our spare time, whether there’s any rules and regulations about stuff around the club, I’m not sure. I’ve definitely not got any intentions to stop tweeting away.’
You also wrote an interesting blog on your website recently – is that something you hope to continue?
‘Yeah, definitely. The best way to get your message across these days is through Twitter or to write a blog, it’s a great way to speak to the fans directly.’
Earlier this week you had to quit an appearance on Question Of Sport to complete your move to Stoke – was this just a ruse to avoid having to listen to Phil Tufnell’s jokes?
‘Ha! No, I actually felt quite bad because I actually committed to it a while ago, but obviously with the signing coming up at the last minute I had to drop out at the last minute.’
And finally, Stoke is famous for its oatcakes, have you tried one yet?
‘I haven’t tried one yet, but I have been made aware of them by a friend of mine after I said I was signing for Stoke. I’m going to have to give it a go aren’t I? That’s the best way to get the fans on my side!’
Thanks to Michael for taking the time to speak to us about his move – he’ll be wearing Umbro Speciali 3 football boots for his new team.