United's Owen interest worrying

Former Magpie Malcolm MacDonald has voiced his concern that United will buy Owen to compensate for Ronaldo’s loss.

With Mike Ashley’s cost-cutting policy taking effect at St. James’ Park MacDonald is concerned that Ronaldo’s departure could open the door for Owen to make a lucrative move to the Red Devils.

Owen has only a year left on his contract at Newcastle and if contract negotiations fall though MacDonald fears Sir Alex will be waiting to poach the striker.

"If Sir Alex Ferguson does lose Ronaldo, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if he came to Newcastle for Owen,” said MacDonald.

"He'll have plenty of money, and what price he'll look at Owen's situation at St James's Park and wonder if he can pick him up on the cheap?

"Because of his goal-scoring record, Sir Alex must know that Owen would be a great short-term signing for him, and he must know that Owen, with the support and service he would get at Old Trafford, is more than capable of chipping in with 20 goals.

"This would certainly go some way to compensating for any loss of Ronaldo."

Ashley is known to be keep to start bringing down the Magpies' astronomical wage bill as he seeks to avoid another season in the Premiership mire.

Owen has picked up his bumper cheque despite going through injury hell in the North East, but his return to form towards the end of last season reminded the football community why Newcastle splashed out £16m to sign him from Real Madrid in the first place.

However, Supermac similarly worries that Owen could leave on a free transfer next summer. He continued: "The rules make it easy for footballers these days, as they all seem to come down on the side of the players.

"Michael Owen's not a kid or a mug and he has to do what is best for himself."

MacDonald played 197 times for the Magpies, scoring 95 goals in his 5-year stint at the club.