Did Manchester United sign Michael Owen to be a benchwarmer, as Everton track Paul Scholes & Tottenham look to sell before they can buy

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “We have to agree a new European Super League which guarantees that the best always play the best – something that does not happen in the Champions League.” – Real Madrid chairman, Florentino Perez.

Runner-up: “Manchester United do it every year, going to Asia or America to sell their brand. The bottom line is that Celtic is a global football club that does have a lot of supporters in parts of the world. I don’t sit here and stamp my feet and get upset about it… Arsenal never travel in pre-season. They go to Austria every year because there are no time zones to travel through, whereas Man United go all over the world. It doesn’t seem to do them much harm, Sir Alex [Ferguson] would say that to you as they’ve won championship after championship, but you could also argue he’s got two teams of world-class players he can put out at any given time and pick his fixtures.” – Tony Mowbray.

Today’s overview: Amazingly, although not a single hack predicted Michael Owen’s move to Old Trafford until the transfer was already completed, whether through prophecy or some other mystic medium, the whole of Fleet Street now seems to know exactly which pigeonhole to place Little Mickey in at the champions.

Steve Tongue leads the calls that “Owen’s most likely role is that of impact substitute,” while Rob Stewart follows right behind announcing “it has been widely argued that Owen’s role at United will be restricted to more peripheral duties next season. Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov are Ferguson’s first-choice strikers and Owen could be used as an impact substitute in deadlocked games, or as a flat-track bully to convert chances against lesser opponents.”

Challenging the consensus opinion is Sceptics suggest Owen will have to accept the billing of a ‘Tuesday night turn’; that Carling Cups and early rounds of the Champions League will represent his defined casting in the Theatre of Dreams. Like Tevez before him, Owen will not be content with mere bench-warming. Even as a £30,000-a-week bargain he will not dutifully accept a role of ‘impact’ striker. His pride would not allow it.”

The News of the World’s Andy Dunn looks to distract attention away from Owen by printing “Samuel Eto’o will drop his astronomic wage demands to join Manchester United… He would accept a cut-price £150,000-a-week deal that would still make him the top earner at Old Trafford instead of the possibility of mid-table football at Eastlands.”

Sarcastically, Rod Liddle pokes fun at Newcastle’s woes. “I’m thinking of putting a bid in for Newcastle. I have only £400 in the bank right now but that seems to me a realistic estimation of the club’s worth. The temptation is to continue running it as a situation comedy, giving pleasure to millions and millions of people across the world.”

The old chestnut of a European Super League rears its ugly head this Sunday with Florentino Perez’s new proposals. “He insists he does not want to replace domestic competition, just guarantee that clubs such as Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, Liverpool, Milan and Juventus could rely on participating every season in a lucrative elite competition, no matter where they finish in La Liga, the Premier League or Serie A.” Looking to scaremonger, Andy Dunn contends that “Perez is drawing up plans that would destroy the English Premier League in its current form.”

And keeping with Los Blancos, Paul Hetherington attempts to remove any scent of doubt as he barks “Real Madrid’s stunning summer of transfer business has continued with a £55million-package offer to Bayern Munich for Franck Ribery.”

Onto the Sunday transfer gossip.

Both Paul Hetherington in the Sunday Star and Simon Mullock in the Mirror on Sunday agree that Everton are trying to prise Paul Scholes away from Manchester United.

Almost gleeful on Manchester City’s pursuit of John Terry, Duncan White pens “for the first time since Roman Abramovich took over, Chelsea are getting a taste of what it feels like to be on the wrong side of a club higher up than you in the financial food chain.” The Daily Mail’s duo of Bob Cass and Joe Bernstein join forces to report “Manchester City will make one last effort to prise England captain John Terry from Chelsea with a £35million bid and wages of £200,000 per week.” However Rob Beasley argues that such a transfer fee will prove too little as “Chelsea will only do business at a staggering £45m – and only if Terry admits to the fans he wants to quit Stamford Bridge.”

On the incomings at the Bridge, Rob Beasley announces “Chelsea plan a dramatic move for Real Madrid winger Wesley Sneijder.”

The Sunday Times regurgitate a day-old set of transfer rumours printing “AC Milan have set their sights on Real Madrid striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Sevilla’s Brazil forward Luis Fabiano… Fiorentina have encouraged Arsenal to make a fresh approach for Brazil midfielder Felipe Melo by offering to consider a part-exchange deal.”

In almost a blatant attempt to stir up trouble on Anfield, Joe Bernstein farts “[Javier Mascherano’s] attempt to force his way out of Anfield has stunned Benitez, who is also having to reconsider letting Xabi Alonso go to Real Madrid for an inflated £35million.” Looking at the deal from the other end, Chris Bascombe notes that “Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola has told the club to go ahead with the pursuit of midfielder Javier Mascherano even though Yaya Toure has signed a new deal.”

Elsewhere, Bob Cass appears to ignore all the facts to invent the opinion that “although Spurs supporters are anxious for transfer action, Redknapp is not prepared to join the transfer market explosion.” And it doesn’t take too long to find another hack who is happy to splash Harry’s cash, Rob Shepherd blurting “Redknapp will launch a £12million bid for the Spanish Peter Crouch. The Spurs boss has lined up giant Athletic Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente to replace Roman Pavyluchenko.”

The People’s Dave Kidd then blows the lid on the real problems at Tottenham – that they have to sell before they can buy. “Tottenham have told rival Premier League clubs they will listen to offers for all but THREE of their squad. The England trio of Jermain Defoe, Aaron Lennon and Jonathan Woodgate are the ‘untouchables’ in Harry Redknapp’s squad as the White Hart Lane chief seeks urgent funds for re-building.”

The original Peter Crouch is also attracting a heap-load of attention this Sunday as Tony Stenson claims that “Fulham are ready to fight it out with Sunderland and Milan for Portsmouth striker Peter Crouch.”

According to Scott Piecha though, the battle for Crouch is over as the beanpole striker “is set to move to Sunderland after Black Cats boss Steve Bruce made a £14million bid that matches Portsmouth’s asking price.”

One striker going nowehere appears to be Arsenal’s Adebayor. Jamie Jackson scribbled in the Observer that “Emmanuel Adebayor has ended a year of uncertainty over his future at Arsenal by committing himself to the club and ending speculation that he would leave the Emirates after three seasons in north London.”