Barmby beats Owen's drum

Thursday, March 01, 2001
England goal hero Nick Barmby has hit out at critics of Michael Owen, insisting his Liverpool team-mate is not a one-dimensional player.

Owen gave a strong indication that there is considerably more to his game, operating in a deeper role than normal.

And he caused all sorts of problems for the Spaniards with his runs and clever use of the ball.

Barmby said: "Some people regard Michael just as someone who gets at players with his pace - but without doubt he has got another string to his bow.

"You could see that on Wednesday. He dropped off people and for me personally put through two great balls. The one from which I scored was a fantastic ball.

"He put through another where the keeper just got their in time and to me Michael is a very clever player and he is definitely not just about pace.

"A lot of people have knocked him which is unfair and he is still only 21-22 and learning the game. That should not be forgotten.

"I train with him every day and, take it from me, he is a fantastic player. He showed against Spain that he has different attributes to his game."

Barmby has forced his way back into the squad for Euro 2000 after being on the sidelines for over two years, but he feels he is more deserving of his place now.

He said: "To be honest in the past two years I've been more consistent with my game and I think consistently this is the best form of my career although I don't carried away after what I've learnt in the past.

"Gerard Houllier has helped with just the belief he has in me. That's the main thing. If the manager believes in you, you feel great and just want to go out and play football."

Barmby was full of praise for the way Eriksson has quickly made an impact with England.

He said: "He's very quiet but you can see what he wants and the formation on Wednesday was very good.

"He knows what he wants and has a great track record. There is no way that you can knock him. He gave me a lot of licence but also to come back and defend when we lost the ball."