Ryan Giggs is convinced Michael Owen can provide Manchester United with a cutting edge they have lacked since the exit of Ruud van Nistelrooy.
A surprise new recruit by Sir Alex Ferguson, Owen has made an impressive start to life at Old Trafford, bagging four goals to finish top scorer on the four-match Far East tour.
While far sterner tests await, starting against Boca Juniors in the Audi Cup tomorrow, Owen shows all the signs of being an astute piece of business for the Red Devils.
And Ferguson has frequently bemoaned United’s failure to take a large enough percentage of the opportunities they create, maybe Owen’s arrival will trigger the improvement required by their demanding manager.
“Michael is a predator, which is something we don’t presently have,” said Giggs.
“We have had players like that over the years. Ruud is an obvious one. Andy Cole was another. They come alive in the box.
“From what I have seen over the years, the thing about Michael is that if he misses a chance it doesn’t bother him one little bit.
“Some players go into their shell. It doesn’t bother him at all.
“He knows he is going to get another chance. Ruud had the same mentality. All top goalscorers have it.
“They know they are going to get chances, so if they miss one, they just think ‘So what?’.”
If Owen can stay fit and keep hitting the target, United will not be far away from landing a record fourth successive championship, and going one clear of Liverpool in the overall standings on 19.
And, on a more personal level, Owen could easily be forging his way into Fabio Capello’s England plans ahead of the World Cup in South Africa.
Capello has consistently ignored Owen since the early games of his reign, claiming the sharp-shooter simply was not fit enough to be in contention for a place in his squad.
However, while he admits England’s fortunes are none of his business, Giggs does not think it would take Owen long to score the nine goals he needs to equal Sir Bobby Charlton’s record milestone of 49.
“He has it in him to do it,” said the veteran Welshman.
“It has been a difficult record to overhaul because obviously it has stood for so long.
“But when you analyse Michael’s career and look at the number of times he has played for England and the goals he has got, if he plays another 15 times he would probably do it.”