Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Piece of Jamaica Cake for Michael

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Piece of Jamaica Cake for Michael

Article excerpt

Byline: By John Gibson

Jamaica did their very best for Michael Owen.

The sunshine boys played wide- eyed and legless to encourage confidence and match fitness within Newcastle's long-term crock.

Owen was grateful and it showed ( he not only completed his first 90 minutes of 2006 at the beginning of June but scored as he must, made two other goals for England colleagues, and won a penalty that was extravagantly squandered.

As a consequence of it all Owen secured what he wanted ( Peter Crouch to play up alongside him on the opening day of England's World Cup this coming Saturday.

Owen hated being the Long Ranger against Hungary and made it known privately afterwards but was given his Tonto by Sven-Goran Eriksson as a going away present.

The result: Owen scored one, Crouch a hat-trick, and 4-4-2 was promptly booked come Paraguay.

When United's top gun has to collect the ball from deeper positions, as he does when he is on his own up front, we don't see the best of him.

He's a predator who likes to run at the last defender in the box.

Another body to occupy minds greatly helps that.

Crouch, perched on legs as thick as pipecleaners, may look anything but a typical marauding thick-thighed English bulldog of a centre-forward but he can be effective.

Of course, Jamaica were there to be taken advantage of such was their dedication to the ancient art of defending.

There was more space than Neil Armstrong found on the moon.

It was a forward's dream with back four and midfield playing like strangers and both Owen and Crouch revelled in it.

Eriksson used all six subs allowed, as he would, but noticeably Owen was left to build up his fitness and confidence.

And to underline that both were amply harvested the Newcastle striker was involved in the best goal of the game a couple of minutes from the end.

A sweeping ball from sub Stewart Downing was expertly cushioned and laid off with one touch by Owen for Crouch to rifle in his hat-trick goal after just having squandered a penalty created by Owen's low centre of gravity. …

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