Top seven conclusions on Manchester United’s new number 7
Michael Owen bags iconic shirt
1. Manchester United fans are not very happy. Zae at Vital Football sums up the shell-shocked response of most United fans. He wrote: “Some might say that we’re making too much fuss over a shirt number but for us it does have a special resonance and it is simply not right that someone like Michael Owen should wear it, especially as he wasn’t fit to pull it on even in his prime.”
2. Sir Alex Ferguson is not stupid. In fact, he is very clever. From a psychological point-of-view, having haggled Owen down over his wage demands this is now a way of building him up and signalling that he can play an important part for United next season.
3. The mind-games don’t stop there. As the probable starting right winger, Antonio Valencia was a more likely candidate. But Fergie knows that giving the Ecuadorian the number 7 shirt would only have increased pressure on him to step into Cristiano Ronaldo’s shoes.
4. People moaning about an ex-Liverpool player being given the number 7 haven’t got a clue. A certain Eric Cantona picked up the same number shortly after joining from Leeds.
5. Injury prone Scousers with dodgy knees can actually stake a strong claim to the shirt: Steve Coppell used to wear it.
6. Yes, great players such as George Best, Bryan Robson and Eric Cantona have worn the number 7 shirt but the hype currently surrounding it is a modern invention. David Beckham was still largely unproven when he first took the shirt, as was the most recent incumbent, Cristiano Ronaldo.
7. United have been the best team in the country for the last two decades and one of the best for a long time before that, so you could effectively look at the legendary number 1 shirt or the iconic number 10 shirt and still find that great players have worn it.