The former Real Madrid forward chatted to AS in London, and gave his thoughts on Zidane's return, Cristiano and how the season's gone for Los Blancos.
Former player Michael Owen spent a season at Real Madrid and so knows only too well the demands on Gareth Bale in the Spanish capital and the difficulties he's going through. Owen sat down to chat to AS in London, and gave his thoughts on Zidane's return, life without Cristiano and how the season's been going for Los Blancos.
How can you explain Real Madrid's downfall this season?
Their season didn't start well, they didn't follow on from last season which was fantastic. And it's difficult when your best player (Cristiano) leaves, and your coach (Zidane)... Solari, who was a team mate of mine, did a good job, but it wasn't enough.
Could you understand Madrid not signing anyone to lessen the shock of losing Cristiano?
It's impossible to replace a player like Cristiano. A small club might be able to sign lots of players but the big clubs only have a limited pool to find players. Maybe there are just 10 players in the world who could sign for Real Madrid. It's very complicated. And also, now all of the clubs are financially stable, they've got money and they don't need to sell... All of that might have contributed to Madrid not signing anyone. Real Madrid's big advantage is their history. Every footballer wants to play there.
New mood at Real Madrid with Zidane back on board
Now Zidane's back...
Things will calm down with him back at the club. Madrid will work to become the best again.
Zidane was also a team mate of yours during your time at the Bernabéu. Could you have imagined him back then becoming the coach he is today?
I played with some brilliant players at Madrid - Raúl, Figo, Ronaldo... one of them was Zidane. I was sure that he was going to go into coaching when his playing career was over - for the way he is. He's intelligent and what he's achieved is incredible. His return to Madrid is fantastic for everyone.
What do you think is his greatest virtue as a coach?
Zidane's very calm, he understands the game and the players and that's very important. I think the best coaches at the moment (e.g. Klopp, Pochettino and Guardiola) are doing well because they understand the players and they can share their experience. Maybe some of the older coaches won't have that kind of experience
What do you mean?
Football changes and the way teams are managed as well. Zidane has a very good relationship with all of his players. He's someone who they respect. For the club, it's good to have someone like him as the coach.
Gareth Bale's achievements
As a British player, how do you see Bale's future? Why hasn't he triumphed at Real Madrid?
I think what Bale has achieved with Real Madrid has been very good. Looking at the cold stats makes you realize just what he's done - we've all seen the photos of him celebrating his goals in all of the important finals - the Champions League and Copa del Rey, but injuries have made things difficult for him. It's not easy, but I think in the future, when he looks back at his time at Real Madrid, he can feel very proud of all of those great moments he's had at the club. In England, we're all very proud of him.
Harry Kane, Eden Hazard... could you see them at Madrid?
There are a lot of good players and teams in the Premier League. We're seeing them doing well in the Champions League. Of course they could fit in at Real Madrid. Kane is very good, Hazard is very, very good... both of them are excellent players, without any doubt.