EVEN when Sir Alex Ferguson offered Michael Owen a new contract at the end of last season, he knew there would be no guarantees about a first-team slot at Manchester United.
As it has turned out, Owen is yet to play a single minute this season.
The statistic should change at Leeds this evening but with the emergence of Danny Welbeck, the 31-year-old finds himself at number five on the United pecking order.
For someone who still stands at number four on the all-time England scorers chart and was rated as Europe's top striker in his pomp, it could be viewed as a disappointing end to his career.
But Owen is having none of it. Even if he didn't play another game for the Red Devils, he would have no regrets about the journey.
"I understand you cannot be given guarantees in football," he told the Manchester Evening News.
"As last season drew to an end I was 50-50 about what the manager would say when he called me in.
"If it had gone the other way I wouldn't have been upset. I am proud to have been involved with such a great club. But secretly when he said he wanted me to stay my fist was clenched under the table.
"We are all men about it. If I didn't play at all during the season I would sit down with the manager and have another chat.
"But last summer he was keen to keep me and that was enough."
Owen admits it is a relatively new experience being so far down the pecking order, although he did have a problem during his short stint at Real Madrid when he found Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane barring his way.
However, he is experienced enough to be prepared for whatever challenge faces him.
"I have been a striker for many years," he reflected.
"I have been the number one choice and had people chomping at my heels. Now it is roles reversed but I can think of a lot worse places to be.
"When I train it is with the best players. When I play it is in front of fantastic fans in a great stadium and the quality is high.
"Who knows what the future holds. I hope I can be involved but I am not stupid there are a lot of top players here and if my chances are limited I will still have a smile on my face and still feel part of a fantastic club."