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What went wrong with Michael Owen at Newcastle?

Posted on June 16th, 2010 | 99 Comments |

Michael Owen - With his first love.
Michael Owen - With his first love.
First off, I apologise for digging up old ground, and secondly, I am only doing it as something has always niggled at me about why Michael Owen turned out to be less than effective during his time on Tyneside.

It was supposed to be the move that set Newcastle up for the future, the arrival of England’s best goalscorer at the time who was supposed to be waiting in the wings to take over from another former England great – Alan Shearer. But it never really worked out like that in the end and now Owen has become somewhat of a victim for the boo-boys of NUFC, a scapegoat for our decline as we slid out of the Premier League and, ultimately, a symbol of all that was wrong with Newcastle United as he walked away on a free transfer, drawing a line underneath this nasty chapter in his career.

Of course, we moved on, as did Michael Owen who now has a part-time job at Manchester United, but the legacy left behind still leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of some Newcastle fans. In a sense, I feel that a lot of that is born purely out of frustration, after all it’s not everyday that thousands of fans turn out at the ground to catch a glimpse of the new signing is it? That is what we did, and with that came a sense of expectation that was left unfulfilled, and that sense of unfulfillment turn to anger and despair as we sat back and watched Owen on the sidelines for month after month.

When he was fit though, he did score goals, in fact he scored just shy of one goal for every two games he played in his time with us. The problem was getting him fit and keeping him fit. His record of 79 appearances in the four years he spent with us is probably testament to that fact. Again, another source of frustration for fans who wanted to see him play.

Then there is the financial angle of Michael Owen. There is no doubt about it, he was a drain on the clubs finances. It wasn’t so much the purchase price that was the problem, Shepherd offset that against all our future sponsorhip money, but what about the £125,000 in basic wages that he recieved each week for his four years at Newcastle? That £26 million had to come from somewhere.

As I said when I started off this article, it is very much raking over old ground, but it has kind of become a bit more relevant now as we know that we are likely to come up against him when he takes his place on the bench when Manchester United visit St James’ Park. I kind of don’t really mind him to be honest, although I understand that others may not feel the same as I do.

At the end of the day, it wasn’t his fault that he was offered so much money, and it wasn’t his fault that he spent so much time injured. We knew when we got him that he had a history of injuries, so when combined with our own horrendous record of injuries they you can hardly be surprised of the outcome. He never gave us any of the old “I love the club” patter, and he never strung us along and made it easy for us to tell that he would be off if we got relegated, what’s the problem with that?

What I did take umbridge with is when Kevin Keegan appointed him as captain, and I still can’t understand why that happened when there were better candidates in the team. Owen has been a great player, but it takes more than just a big name to be a leader on the pitch, and there were absolutely no signs of any leadership when we needed it from Owen.

For me, that is the most disappointing aspect of Michael Owen.

NUFCBlog Author: toonsy toonsy has written 643 articles on this blog.

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99 Responses

  1. toonsy-michael owen was a heartless wa**er..I will never forget the year we went down the night we played portsmouth when we needed someone or something to be a hero and that b*stard went hiding for 90 minutes!Anyone ever watch the film braveheart?Michael owen is the exact opposite to william wallace..Afraid of his own shadow and i love watching the 2006 world cup against sweeden when he crippled himself brilliant to watch his dreams go up in smoke hahaha

  2. Very unlucky with injuries, it has to be said. The majority of time spent out were due to his ligament damage and his broken foot. Injuries that cannot be foreseen.

  3. I agree with Stuart I think we would have maybe seen a different MO if it wasn’t for the injuries which he cant be blamed for, But he is still a greedy w*$ker ;)

  4. nee wonder he was always injured if he kept dropping his wage packet on his foot,waste of space imo

  5. Stuart79 says:
    June 16, 2010 at 9:04 pm
    Very unlucky with injuries, it has to be said. The majority of time spent out were due to his ligament damage and his broken foot. Injuries that cannot be foreseen.
    <<<< spot on stu i think the england injury did if it hadnt happend think he would have been a diff player

  6. batty – Good man is Frankie.

    Nothing to extravagant for me, just Byword – Considering what Goldikova did she was the nearest to a guarenteed winning bet I’ve seen for a while.

  7. I agree with batty & stuart on this.
    Injuries did for him, can’t legislate for that.
    & we did get a canny screw outta the fa, fifa etc. probably more than half we payed.

  8. Pride? If he had played, scored and we won, would we be arguing about whether he played with pride or not?

  9. Although batty, I’m a bit gutted I forgot Rainfall was running – I got the word for that horse in it’s maiden when it pissed it.

  10. clint
    ohhh aye, forgot about that didnt we get compo for his knee, wasnt it like 13mil or something? After this didnt the FA bring in a rule so it could happen again?

  11. ILM,
    aye mate,
    dunno about ’em changing the rules like, but it wouldn’t surprise me like.

  12. So what does everyone think about the teams in the WC then?

    I think after we’ve seen everyone it puts England’s result and performance intop perspective.

    First game is really hard.

  13. Stu – I agree. But then the press haven’t really helped by jumping all over it without first reflecting on things.

    I honestly don’t think anyone has shown their best as yet.

  14. Stuart,
    it goes from ‘just don’t lose’ to ‘gotta win’.
    First round of games are always cagey.
    But y’right, it’ll become a lot clearer after this next round, that’s for sure.
    It’s just dull that england didn’t win cos of a rick.

  15. I dont think Englands result was that bad now considering they played the only team so far that has played to their full potential :)

  16. Stuart79 says:
    June 16, 2010 at 9:29 pm
    Although batty, I’m a bit gutted I forgot Rainfall was running – I got the word for that horse in it’s maiden when it pissed it.
    <<< aye stu i backed that 1st time oot

  17. batty says:
    June 16, 2010 at 5:08 pm
    well goin on all results dusent look like england are as bad as some people think
    <<< stu

  18. That’s the British press tho Stuart,when they can’t have a go at the Toon they then have to pick on England.I reckon we’ll be at home for the first game,someone like West Ham would do.

  19. He has become the reason I don’t Man U to win anything. I am glad that captained NUFC to relegation is forever on his resume. They way he left the day after relegation without a word and immediatly sent out his little bio packagae…makes me sick.

    I hope he ends up in Turkey or something

  20. Toonsy, Was it me mentioning sicknote the other day that prompted this article. I was saying that a trophy signing aint a bad thing if it works. Had he stayed fit and scored a load of goals for us then things would look a lot different. Still it’s what happened rather than what might have happened that counts.

    I’d rather we had a winning start against Chelsea than us losing away to Blackpool, kick start or brick wall!!

  21. Toonsy,
    wouldn’t it have been easier to ask what went right with Owen, i mean it would have been a much shorter list it would take days to write out what went wrong and i haven’t got that long to spend writing about the greedy, past it little shite. :)

  22. I heard a former player, ( supermac i think) saying that Owen was playing for us with a face like a smacked arse and that he needed to get himself sorted out, we cant blame his attitude for relegation but together with Viduka and Martins, they have a lot to answer for.
    His heralded signing at Manu was obscenely bigged up by the press but we were all proved right as he continued to be a fading bit part player.
    I wonder if he will be playing this season and where but as the picture shows, horse racing is where he is the happiest.

  23. The media had a great time telling everyone that owen had been rescued from the toon & that fergie would save his career with special training etc etc, all his pundit mates saying he should go to the world cup…….wonder what happened? Souness was right for once, we should have signed anelka.

  24. My feeling on Owen was he signed for us to get back into the England team. All he cared about was his england career for some reason , he was not fit enough to go to the 2006 world cup and i would say that had a part to play in his injury he picked up. He was a good player but the only player ive come across that peaked at 18.

    But roll on the new fixtures!

  25. I said to my mate it would be them. I’m over the moon, I always want the Mancs. See what we’re really made of.

  26. I think we could have had an easier first two games.

    Although Villa at home will give us an idea of were we are, as they will be a decent side but not one of the best.

  27. Don’t think the fixtures are too bad actually for the first few months, you have to play all them all I guess etc etc, as a neutral though, some cracking games in store first day of the season.

  28. AUGUST
    14 Man Utd (A)
    21 Aston Villa (H)
    28 Wo l v e s (A)
    September
    11 Blackpool (H)
    18 Everton (A)
    25 Stoke (H)
    October
    2 Man City (A)
    16 Wi g a n (H)
    23 West Ham (A)
    30 Sunderland (H)
    N ov e m b e r
    6 Arsenal (A)
    10 Blackburn (H)
    13 Fulham (H)
    20 Bolton (A)
    27 Chelsea (H)
    December
    4 West Brom (A)
    11 Liverpool (H)
    18 Birmingham (A)
    26 Man City (H)
    28 Tottenham (A)
    Januar y
    1 Wi g a n (A)
    5 West Ham (H)
    15 Sunderland (A)
    22 Tottenham (H)
    Februar y
    2 Fulham (A)
    5 Arsenal (H)
    12 Blackburn (A)
    26 Bolton (H)
    March
    5 Everton (H)
    19 Stoke (A)
    April
    2 Wo l v e s (H)
    9 Aston Villa (A)
    16 Man Utd (H)
    23 Blackpool (A)
    30 Liverpool (A)
    M ay
    7 Birmingham (H)
    14 Chelsea (A)
    22 West Brom (H)

  29. Nice to see we’re at home on boxing day and the final day of the season, makes a change. Oct 30th, the mackems at home in the first of the derbys, cannot wait.

  30. Hope were not in a relegation scrap – Last six games we have Liverpool, Man Utd and Chelsea.

    September will be our best month.

  31. but we also have blackpool birminham and west brom and id say 2 of them will be in a relegation battle themselves

  32. stu right on both points now get ya cash on nigeria france and argies nice treble and on dherghaam in the britannia

  33. Nah batty, I’m going with a lively long shot – Audacity of hope.

    Big fields = big winner!

  34. As regards Owen he is a goal poacher, nothing more, yet everyone expected him to be racing round all over the pitch. We knew what we were buying but we never played to his strengths by providing decent service. The first half of the relegation season his scoring record was very good, but injuries seem to catch up with him second half and he looked extremely jaded. The crazy thing is that people have been slagging off Owen yet clamouring for us to sign Boyd, who by all acocunts is a very similar player.

  35. Johno Toon says:
    June 17, 2010 at 9:50 am

    Out of 5 games with Blackpool and WBA last season we only won once.

  36. batty says:
    June 17, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Yeah but it’s a big price and it’s not a bad horse.

    If I was to have a winning bet, think it’d be ransom note.

  37. The premier league will be stronger this time out as ourselves and West Brom are light years ahead of Burnley, Hull and Portsmouth, Blackpool will be the obvious whipping boys.

    Last season without points gained against Hull, Burnley and Portsmouth the sides point tallys were:

    Blackburn – 36
    Fulham – 33
    Stoke – 33
    Sunderland – 33
    Bolton – 30
    Wolves – 30
    Wigan – 28
    West Ham – 24

    If we can get as many points off these teams and the other promoted sides as possible, Keep our home form strong like Fulham, Stoke and the mackems who have become mid table sides on home form alone, Well stay up easy.

  38. Very true stuart but if its gonna go down to the wire ( n it may well do ) id be looking at those games as must wins for us

  39. Don’t think we could have got a worse set of fixtures. We need to see some intelligent player recruitment or we are doomed.

  40. Come on toonsy!

    You’ve been going on about the fixtures for the last two weeks – There finally here and you’ve gone on the missing list!

    Were’s the thread?

  41. Macas – how could we not have got a worse set of fixtures???

    We have to play Man U, Arsenal and Chelsea home and away – it doesn’t really matter what order they come in.

  42. Toon Chicken says:
    June 17, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Well it could have an effect if we played them all in the first three games.

    Losing the first three wouldn’t be great for confidence and could be difficult to get over.

    But we haven’t got them in that order so I am grateful.

  43. A more positive way of looking at it Stu, is that you don’t expect to get anything from those games anyway – so if you do its a bonus, and if you don’t – well at least they’re out of the way and the games should get easier from here on in.

  44. I’ve heard players, fans and managers come up with some pretty daft excuses for relegation, but I’ve never once heard anyone directly blame the fixture list.

  45. Toon Chicken says:
    June 17, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Doesn’t quite work like that though does it, in sport?

    If you lose three games on the bounce, your confidence is down, whoever you’ve played. That automatically makes your next game harder.

    But I honestly believe a fixture list can have an effect on a newly promoted team. If we had an easy first 6 games and got 16 points from them, we’d be flying and that would make a difference too.

  46. Getting off to a flyer makes little if any difference over the course of a season.

    Burnley proved that last season.

    Hull only just survived the season before.

    Spurs were in a worse position than us a couple of seasons ago and almost qualifies for Europe – so did Everton this season.

    Plenty of teams have been miles ahead at the top of the league (us included) and not gone on to win it.

    What matters is what you do throughout the course of the season. If you get your points at the the beginning, the end or somewhere between the two – it makes little difference.

  47. ‘If we had an easy first 6 games and got 16 points from them, we’d be flying and that would make a difference too.’

    Like Hull, the season we were relegated? who we ended up in a relegation fight with?

  48. And regarding confidence – I think the manner of defeat makes more of a difference than the defeat itself.

    So long as we show the passion, fight and commitment we did last season I think the lads and CH will back themselves to bounce back.

    If we roll over and get humped 6-0 it might be a different story…

  49. Toon Chicken says:
    June 17, 2010 at 11:43 am

    I Love Mike says:
    June 17, 2010 at 11:44 am

    If Hull hadn’t have had a good start they would have been relegated!

    Results, breed confidence and Hull showed that over the first two months of that season.

  50. Bullsh!t – Hull only stayed up because we could only win 1 of our last 8 games.

    There are plenty examples of teams that have bad starts and stay up – some even finish in the top 7 or 8.

  51. Burnley had a good start to the season and they got relegated.

    Good start. Good finish. Neither make fcuk all difference if you can’t perform throughout the ENTIRE season as all the examples I have given prove.

  52. Burnley probably went down because they lost their manager and replaced him with the cheapest option.

    But I

  53. Ok, back on the Owen thing, here’s one:

    “When he was fit though, he did score goals, in fact he scored just shy of one goal for every two games he played in his time with us. The problem was getting him fit and keeping him fit.”

    Know who else you could say that about, who cost less than a tenth of the cash? Shola.

  54. I agree that if it hadn’t been for some key injuries things would have been different – but not much; it would just have drawn out our suffering into another season int he prem before we went down and/or bust.
    But when Owen dodged the interviews and cameras, got on his helicopter and disappeared having captained “his team” to relegation, that said a lot about him.
    I don’t think he’s a bad lad, just devoid of team spirit. He plays for himself, and that is partly why he’s so good in the right team. But he was the ultimate expression of the folly of Shepherd’s thinking. Huge amounts squandered on someone who lacked the basic qualification for a black and white shirt.

  55. But I think you’re twisting the argument like.

    I never said a club would stay up if they have a good start – I said it will make things easier for them.

    Not sure whether you’ve ever played sport, particularly a team sport, but if you lose your first three matches it makes the next game very difficult. Before you know it you have gone 6 games without a win.

    If you’re a good team you will recover, if you’re new to the league you won’t very often recover.

  56. Stuart – quite agree. Shame about our opening fixture, then!

    Still, Manure always start badly, and there’s no reason we can’t repeat our last result at the Theatre of Prawn Sandwiches.

  57. This is actually based on FACT – not one of your “I used to occasionally ply 5-a-side before I did my knee in” cliches.

    “Dr Matthew Atkinson and Dr Henry Stott began by dividing every Premiership result for the past six years into hits and misses. Hits are games where a side wins and misses are those where they draw or lose. Every team can now be ascribed an average hit rate for the past six years. Chelsea’s is the best — with a 66.9 per cent hit rate they edge out Arsenal, on 62.3 per cent, and Manchester United, on 61.15 per cent. Sunderland’s 9.68 per cent rate is comfortably the worst.

    These hit rates tell you how likely it is that a given streak of hits will occur. The higher the hit rate the longer the streaks you might expect to see in the normal course of things. A team who win 50 per cent of the time are quite likely to win in clumps of, say, three, but if they start winning eight on the trot it is time to sit up and take notice.

    We then started looking for streaks of hits and misses to see whether any were sufficiently long that, using the strictest possible statistical test, we would judge remarkable. And here’s the thing — we did find some. Thirteen in all, including two streaks of Liverpool hits and one streak of misses making them the streakiest side.

    So have we been wrong? Is this evidence that form exists after all? We worked up a new test.

    We divided each team’s results into four categories — prior win and current win; prior win and current non-win; prior non-win and current win; prior non-win and current non-win. Then we applied something called the Chi Square analysis.

    Not a single team won a significantly greater proportion of games after wins than after non-wins. There is no hot-hand effect at all. Winning one or more games does not change your chance of winning the next one.

    So how to explain those few surprising streaks over the past six years? Not by form, but by lumpiness of easy and difficult fixtures.

    Form does not exist. It just doesn’t. Now off you go to the pub and try telling them that before the match. I wish you luck.”

  58. Toon Chicken says:
    June 17, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    That looked so fckin boring I didn’t read past the first line of the first paragraph.

    Let me put it like this:

    If we lose our first three games and we then play Wigan away in the fourth game, will we have a better chance getting something at Wigan after losing the previous three games or winning the previous three games?

    My point being that Wigan is a game we can expect to get something from, but if we play them after a run of bad results we might not get what we would have expected – That could be three points we had ear marked.

    So fixtures can have an effect.

  59. Stu – no point in having a conversation with you then, Stu if that’s your attitude.

    See ya!

  60. Toon Chicken – I would disagree, I think it can be very important the start you get, as it breeds confidence if you can get a few points on the board early on. I think Blackpool are home to Wigan which is an ideal starting fixture. If you get a few thumpings early on, it can affect the players morale. And at the end of the season you would rather face teams with nothing to play for, not teams going for the title/champions league spots, or fellow relegation battlers. Personally I think it can be very important when you face particular teams.

  61. Toon Chicken: I was just pointing out that we got a point there 2 years ago, in the same year they utterly clunged us at SJP. I suppose whether they’re good or bad starters depends on how far back you take your stats.

  62. Not Michael Owens fault really.

    Once a great player, got destroyed by injuries, and has lived on a reputation since the age of 23 when he lost his pace, first touch and that was pretty much all he had that made him a superb poacher.
    By the time we bought him, he was already useless and will remain useless until he realises he should hang up his boots.
    All he has left now is good intellegence. But against intellegent defenders he may as well not be on the pitch.

    No pace, no first touch, no skill, no passing ability, no workrate, no influence as a captain (again not his fault he was made captain). End of story…

  63. Owen had become a player who would only be effective in a very good team-unfortunately Newcastle no longer had that. He signed for us because no team was prepared to pay a 16m transfer fee and pay 100000 a week in wages which we didnt have in the 1st place.
    It also showed up an attitude that if the going got tough he wasnt that interested.

  64. Samthecat

    Owen would only be effective in a very good team, but then he probably wouldn’t make the starting line up. So he may as well retire.

  65. During the time of Freddy Shepherd we bought everyone except for a good leader, we bought Martins to replace Shearer?!? Obviously the one who sanctioned the transfer didn’t understand that Shearer wasn’t just about the goals, he was a natural leader. When MA bought the club, or a bit before that ,we sold Parker, who obviously is a leader as well(look at West Ham), but was just too afraid of our crowd and didn’t want to take responsibility..
    And Keegans masterplan how to keep Owen, to hand him the captaincy, that pretty effectively started to sink our club, as KK was obligated to play the Invisible Man, instead of Martins, who offered wider range of skills… The ones who say that Martins didn’t score and that his finishing was woeful, strikers as any other players exist on morale, Martins as always a nr.2 to Owen, regardless how good I play, Owen will be ahead of me, I wouldn’t score as well, I wouldn’t give a damn…

  66. Certainly Owen was an awful signing and cost the club a bundle.
    When playing, looked like he was just going thru the motions,often disappearing for parts of the game.
    I think his lack of any emotion in regards to the club was also a factor.
    Seemed more into his horses or playing for the national side, than who was paying his hundred and ten thou. a week salary.
    Well he`s outta here, best o luck Fergie!

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