Harty on why Albion should sign Michael Owen

WITH the prospect of near full houses every week at the Amex and a record number of season ticket holders, things are really hotting up at the Albion.

Regardless of promotion to the Championship or not, although I still think it will happen, moving to the Amex will represent a new level for the club.

With a full ground, the Albion might have to think about almost looking outside the box to drive the club forward, and I think a “marquee” signing next summer might be the answer.

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I’m sure I’m not alone when I get frustrated seeing youngsters playing football in parks or walking round the streets, wearing Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal or Manchester United shirts. How good would it be if the club could make an iconic signing, who could perform on the pitch but almost, like Helen of Troy “The face that launched a thousand ships”, be the player that sold 10,000 shirts.

Who could do that?

And could the club afford such a signing?

To my mind the ID fit of the player is quite simple. You need a player of international class, who can still play well at Championship level.

He really needs to be financially comfortable, so the wages are not a major issue. But the big thing for me is that this signing would have one final challenge in his career, to help get the Albion into the top flight, which although having already having had a successful career previously, this would be their lasting legacy to the army of Albion fans around the globe.

The saying is very true in the fact that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know and chairman Tony Bloom obviously has extensive contacts not only in football, but also in horse racing.

Call me crazy, call me over ambitious, but I think the Albion’s big name signing next summer should be Michael Owen.

Just think about thousands of youngsters, and probably a few adults as well, going around Sussex wearing Albion shirts with ‘Owen 9’ on the back?

Owen has been well-represented down the years and is financially secure, so I don’t think his wages would really be that much of a stumbling block.

His injury problems might be an issue, but nothing that ‘a-pay-as-you-play’ arrangement couldn’t accommodate. Besides, what better motivation for the player himself than one final challenge in his career?

A pipedream transfer?

But is it that much different to England centre-forward Bobby Smith joining the club in the sixties, or Brian Clough, one of the greatest managers this country has ever produced, taking the manager’s job in 1973?

And, finally, I’m off to Roundstone Lane this Saturday for a Christmas lunch with the good people at Worthing Rugby Club, prior to the first-team fixture with high-flying Jersey. Although, having said that, at the time of going to press the weather forecast could still yet scupper perhaps one of the club’s largest league attendances this season.

Fingers crossed . . .