Stoke City: Owen put through his paces
"Why did you join Stoke so late in the day?"
"IT'S been a long old summer. The problem was, I kept thinking it would be the next week I would be signing, but I suppose it kept me on my toes. It was frustrating watching the first game of the season and not being involved.
I spoke to the manager here three months prior, so I knew there was a strong possibility I would come here. I will blame him for not making it happen sooner!
It just dragged on. I was eager to sign straight away, so I'm not quite sure of the reason for the delay, but that's in the past."
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"So why did you opt to sign for Stoke City?"
"I'M very pleased to be here. It ticks an awful lot of boxes. I've got a family of four children and it was preferential to stay in my local area.
From the club's point of view it was a risk bringing me here, but I would like to think it's a risk worth taking.
There will be a lot of people hoping to see me do well here, but inevitably you've got doom-mongers as well, but that's life.
If I stay fit, it's a win, win situation for everybody.
I'm still only 32, so I feel I've still got a lot left in me."
"What are your early impressions of Stoke City?"
"YOU can see with your own eyes that it's been on an upward curve for quite a while and it's an exciting time to join."
"And what are your early impressions of Tony Pulis?"
"THE manager has been keen for me to sign for a number of years and it's nice to feel wanted. Prior to going to Manchester United (in 2009) he made contact."
"What do you know about the Stoke fans?"
"IT'S a club I've played against many times and I know the atmosphere in the stadium is fantastic and that it's a passionate place for football.
"Everybody wants to be popular with everybody, but with your fans especially. It gives you confidence and it will be great for me if the fans here take to me. It's exciting in a lot of different ways, and hopefully I can get off to a good start.
"They are certainly the noisiest set of supporters, which is a real benefit to the team and to individuals.
"When you know the fans are on your side it gives you the confidence and drive to put in better performances.
"I think the club relies on that support and it's no great coincidence they have done so well with it."
"How is your fitness right now?"
"FOOTBALL-wise, I've done all the fitness tests, and the feedback I'm getting is that I'm up there and on a par with the others.
"But the one thing I do feel is a bit rusty on my touch. I've only done four sessions since I've been here with the lads, so if there's one thing I feel behind on it's the actual football, things like touch and co-ordination – things that might not meet the eye, but things I would know.
"I suspect that will improve over the next couple of weeks."
"Do you feel you are able to play against Manchester City this weekend?"
"I FEEL as though I'm fit enough to take part in a game, but I'm not 100 per cent confident or happy with my touch and other bits and bob, but that will come.
"Hopefully I can hit the ground running, but I know in the back of my mind that I have to improve."
"Coming from Manchetser United, what are your thoughts on City?"
"OBVIOUSLY it's a big game with the reigning champions in town. I've been on the opposing side many times coming to the Britannia Stadium and I'm sure City will pay us the respect we will pay them.
"They have improved again this summer and it's no secret that they will finish at the high end of the table again."
"Do you regard yourself as being a man on a mission at Stoke?"
"THAT'S a good way of putting it. I suppose I have got a lot to prove... whether I can take the rigours of a full season.
"Inevitably there might be one or two games you might miss, but my main wish is to be fit for most of the season, and I'd be foolish to wish for anything else, especially after the season I had last year."
"After such a long break, are you still confident in your goalscoring ability?"
"I'VE always scored goals, so as long as I can stay fit and healthy, I'm sure I can do that here at Stoke too.
"A lot of people say that practice is an important ingredient in making a footballer, but I think a lot of my game has been instinctive, knowing where the ball is going to drop and being cool enough to finish.
"Hopefully I won't lose the knack of being in the right place at the right time, but with not playing for a while there's obviously a few things to brush up on, and in training I feel I'm not quite there with my touch and co-ordination.
"So hopefully, in a couple of weeks, I will be fully up to speed and on top form."
"Are your looking forward to playing alongside your ex-England sidekick Peter Crouch again?"
"I'VE played with Peter Crouch a number of times and we have always done well together – that's for all to see.
"But it would be disrespectful to say I am looking forward to playing with Peter.
"There's obviously a lot of good strikers here and there's nothing in my contract to say I'm starting every game. I have got no divine right to do so.
"But to answer the question, the evidence is there for all to see that we have done particularly well when we have played together."
"Do you see yourself as just a player at Stoke, or do you believe you have more to offer the squad?"
"IT'S a wider role. Obviously I'll be trying to play and score, but there's other things I can bring to the squad. I hope to contribute in many ways.
"Obviously, I would like to contribute on the pitch by scoring goals. But there are a lot of young players here and I'd like to think I could help out.
"The club have made giant strides over the years, and often the hardest steps are the final ones because you are competing with the big boys."
"What were the implications of being a Manchester United player?"
"EVERY time you play for Manchester United, you feel a big pressure because you know the whole world is waiting and anticipating. And if you don't score, you might not get a look in again.
"So it was really motivating to play in every game and send out the message that every time I did play I still knew where the net was."
"You seemed to be on the fringes at United towards the end of your time there. Did you ever complain about the lack of opportunities?"
"I'VE never been a complainer. It was a privilege to play at a club like United. It was everything I had hoped it would be. Everyone was brilliant. I wouldn't think about complaining about it one iota.
"I scored a hat-trick in one game and then didn't start the next, but that shows how good the players were there.
"I'm not stupid. At 18 or 19 I would probably have been playing every week, so I've got to analyse it correctly.
"It's inevitable in many ways that my time had naturally come to an end, but I don't have a bad word to say about my time at Manchester United."
"In retrospect, might it have been a good idea to leave United 12 months earlier to look for new opportunities?"
"PEOPLE said I should have moved earlier, but after two years I'd had a great time. Cup final goals, a hat-trick in the Champions League, the winner against Man City... great moments that people conveniently forget.
"But when after a couple of years the manager says, 'I have got a big role for you to play and we want you for another year', it's great to hear.
"In retrospect, it might have been better to leave, but then again I was injured and so it probably wouldn't have made any difference."
"You scored that last-gasp goal for United to beat Manchester City 4-3 in September 2009. Any chance of a repeat this weekend?"
"INEVITABLY it's Man City (v Stoke tomorrow) and everybody knows that goal came in one of United's most exciting games. But just because I scored against them then doesn't mean I will do it again. I might not even be in the squad... but it was a fabulous moment."