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SPORTS
31 May 2011
MICHAEL OWEN EAGER TO EXTEND MANCHESTER UNITED STAY

The parade began at Manchester Cathedral before heading out of the city

Out-of-contract striker Michael Owen has reiterated his desire to stay at Manchester United.

The 31-year-old helped the club win a record 19th league title and was an unused substitute in the 3-1 Champions League final defeat by Barcelona.

"I have loved every minute," Owen said during the club's title-winning victory parade in Manchester on Monday.

"We have great players, great staff, a great manager and great fans. Hopefully it can continue."

The former Liverpool, Real Madrid and Newcastle striker joined United on a free transfer in July 2009, signing a two-year deal which expired at the end of the season.

With strikers Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov and Javier Hernandez ahead of him in the pecking order at Old Trafford, Owen has had to be content with a largely peripheral role.

He has made 48 appearances for United, with 33 of those coming off the bench, and has scored 14 goals.

Owen, who started just one Premier League game for United this season, is one of several players being linked with a move away from Old Trafford.

Another, Dimitar Berbatov, also took part in the open-top bus parade despite being left out of the squad for Saturday's showpiece at Wembley.

The selection prompted rumours that the 30-year-old Bulgarian, who finished the season as the Premier League's joint top goalscorer, may have played his last game for the club, with reports suggesting he could return to Tottenham.

Speculation also surrounds the future of Paul Scholes, who has been offered a one-year contract extension but is weighing up whether to retire from the game.

As he celebrated with his team-mates on Monday, the 37-year-old was giving little away.

"Reaching 19 titles is not something you ever think about. All you want to do is win something," he said.

"To go on like we have done is a great achievement. Now we want to stretch our lead even more.

"The challenge will always be to get the next one. This one is out of the way now. We will celebrate it today, have a nice summer, then think about winning the next one."

While Owen, Berbatov and Scholes could all be on their way out of Old Trafford, United are being linked with several high-profile transfer targets, including Ashley Young, Wesley Sneijder and Luka Modric.

Manchester United chief excecutive David Gill said he would be working hard to help manager Sir Alex Ferguson improve the squad.

 

"It will be a busier than usual summer this year," Gill told MUTV.

"I will be going away at some point in June and be back for the start of our tour but I will be on with player stuff for the next few weeks I am sure."

United's 19th title took them one ahead of the English record tally of 18 they previously shared with Liverpool.

But losing to Barcelona in the Champions League final for the second time in three seasons took some of the gloss of their season.

"There'd be something wrong if we weren't disappointed after Saturday but if you'd have said at the start of the season we would win that 19th title, everyone at the club would have taken it," said United midfielder Ryan Giggs.

England striker Rooney, who signed a new five-year contract at the club in October, has already set his sights on securing title number 20.

"Winning the league is a massive achievement," he said. "We have to forget about what happened on Saturday and move on.

"The idea now is to win the 20th. We will be fighting hard to make sure we are there again next season."

Meanwhile, defender Patrice Evra said he would relish the opportunity to face Catalan giants Barcelona in next year's European Cup final.

"Manchester United never die," he told MUTV. "We are not afraid. I want to come back to the final and play against Barcelona again.

"Manchester United had a good season - not a great season because we didn't win on Saturday night.

"But we have still won the league and we are going to win the league again next year, and make sure we win the Champions League as well."

 

Source: bbc.co.uk

 

 

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