A lot of sympathy has come the way of Michael Owen after he spoke on Saturday.
The former Newcastle player talking about his injury problems that affected his career.
He says about the last six or seven years of his career, including his time at Newcastle: ‘I hated it. I couldn’t wait to retire at the back end of my career because I wasn’t me.’
The striker referring to the impact injuries had had on his playing style and ability to play.
One place where he is unlikely to get much sympathy is from those who care about Newcastle United.
Yes he had injuries but Newcastle fans soon found out that Michael Owen and England came first and second, with Newcastle United a distant third (if that!).
Michael Owen was more than happy to pick up £110,000 a week in wages at St James Park and yet put himself and England before the club and fans who paid his wages.
He then walked away at the end of his four year contract in 2009 without a backwards glance, not considering for one moment that he should take any responsibility for the relegation and help to put it right by staying on. Instead he looked after himself, as always.
Surely the prime example of his behaviour, was exposed by Paul Ferris in his excellent autobiography earlier this year.
Working as a physio at Newcastle at the time in 2009, Ferris related a conversation with Michael Owen in the relegation run-in, when the striker opted out of starting for Newcastle in the crucial final matches because he was concerned that if he got injured he might not get a contract at another club so easily, when he walked away from Newcastle (read below).
At the beginning of July this year (see below), Michael Owen indicated that he was going to take legal action with regard to Paul Ferris’ claims, clear his (Michael Owen’s) name and said ‘the dozens who have been led to believe this rubbish and slaughtered me for it ought to hang their heads in shame.’
I think it is more than dozens Michael….
Needless to say, almost seven months after the publication of the Paul Ferris book, no signs at all of legal action from Michael Owen to put us all right.
We know the score and Paul Ferris just rubber stamped what we all knew/believed
Michael Owen speaking on BT Sport – 25 August 2018
“Once I did it once (a hamstring tear), I was gone really.
“I changed my game.
“I went from someone who scored goals like I did against Argentina – beating players, quick, running in channels, crossing the ball. That was me.
‘The last six or seven years of my career…I just turned into the only thing I could.
“I was petrified of running into a channel, I just knew I was going to tear a muscle.
“You have lost everything.
“All I did at the end of my career for six or seven years, I hated it. I couldn’t wait to retire at the back end of my career because I wasn’t me.”
The Mag – 4 July 2018:
In his excellent autobiography which came out earlier this year, Paul Ferris confirmed what all Newcastle fans think/thought of Michael Owen.
Ferris was a physio at Newcastle United back in 2009, as Newcastle vainly fought relegation.
As Ferris’ book revealed, Michael Owen certainly wasn’t focused on that particular fight…
Former Newcastle physio (and player) Paul Ferris included this in ‘The Boy on the Shed’:
The doctor and the three physios were sitting to my right in the medical office. Opposite me sat Michael Owen. I liked Michael and regarded him as a good professional. He’d complained of a ‘feeling’ in his groin after training, ‘like it was going to go’. He’d had a career ravaged by muscle injuries so I fully understood his caution. We’d had a scan on the area and it had picked up nothing. That was good news. Whatever it was, it wasn’t a muscle tear, which would’ve ended our best striker’s season and our best hopes of scoring goals in the last two games of it. The doctor relayed the positive news to all in the room.
I spoke to Michael first. ‘In light of the clear scan results do you think you’ll be fit to play against Fulham? It’s the most important game of the season. A win might be enough for us.’
Michael placed his hand over his groin. ‘Not sure, to be honest. It doesn’t feel too bad. But I’m out of contract at the end of the season. What if I rip my groin on Saturday? I’ll not get a contract at another club if I’m injured.’
I was a little taken aback by his reply. I didn’t share his reasoning. ‘But you already have a contract, Michael. You have a career here now with us.’
He didn’t like mine either. ‘I want to speak to Alan (Shearer) about this.’
I leaned forward and pointed at my chest. ‘You’re speaking to Alan, he’s here.’
He looked behind me and pointed. ‘Is he in the cabinet?’
It was getting silly now.
Moving forward to the present day and this conversation has now taken place on Twitter on 3 July 2018:
Fan Michael Phillips writing (with also an image of the page above from Paul Ferris’ book):
“All the sharing of Michael Owen goal against Argentina in the last day or so.
“Never forget what he is, as shown by the Paul Ferris book.
“No pundits or journalists ever challenge the golden boy on this. Disgraceful.”
Another fan Jason Miller commenting:
“If it wasn’t true then Michael Owen would have had Ferris up in court for libel.”
Michael Owen replying:
“I’ll have my time very soon, don’t worry.
“And the dozens who have been led to believe this rubbish and slaughtered me for it ought to hang their heads in shame.”
It will be interesting to see what Michael Owen will do, if anything.
It seems very strange to wait five months or more to do anything, or even reply to the claims, why not back in February when the book was released?
Also, it is surely very doubtful that Paul Ferris would open himself up to any kind of legal action.
As a qualified barrister, I find it very difficult to believe, especially when it isn’t just a case of one person’s word against another, Paul Ferris saying another four people were in the room when this conversation took place.
The Twitter conversation above saw the two fans include Michael Owen so that he would see their comments on his timeline, so maybe simply a case of bravado from Owen in his reply to them.
One thing for sure anyway, whatever Michael Owen does or doesn’t do, it won’t change one little bit most Newcastle fans’ opinion of a player who was an absolute disgrace at NUFC, only one person should be hanging his head in shame.
Back on 21 February 2018 and article on The Mag came up with these timeline ‘highlights’ of the depressing ‘contribution’ Michael Owen made to Newcastle United…
24 August 2005 Michael Owen signs for Newcastle United, a club record fee of £16m, receiving a reported £110,000 per week (£5.5m per year, plus bonuses…)
22 December 2008 (After only 47 Premier League starts in three and a half years and around £20m in wages so far) Michael Owen refuses to sign a new contract offered by Newcastle. Owen also states that he will not be seeking a move in the January transfer window and instead intends to postpone talks over his contract situation until the end of the season (when he can leave for nothing and be in a stronger position to demand higher wages from a new club…)
11 May 2009 Newcastle have a must win game against Middlesbrough in their relegation struggle (third last game of season), Michael Owen starts but contributes little. Boro take a shock lead before Steven Taylor scores an equaliser. Owen is subbed on 70 minutes with the score still 1-1, his replacement Obafemi Martins scores within seconds of coming on and Lovenkrands adds another for a 3-1 win.
16 May 2009 If Newcastle can beat Fulham at St James Park they would be hot favourites to now stay up. Michael Owen nowhere in the squad, as per (Paul Ferris explanation of) reasons above…Newcastle lose 1-0 as chances go begging after their best striker opts not to play.
24 May 2009 Newcastle go to Aston Villa needing a result, Michael Owen is only on the bench. NUFC go 1-0 down through a Duff own goal, Owen comes on with 23 minutes to go but contributes nothing. If Newcastle had got a goal/point they would have stayed up. Later (in 2013), Michael Owen responded to claims that he had decided not to make himself available to start that all or nothing Villa match: ‘I was hurt and it’s ridiculous to suggest anything else. I had a lot of pride and I wanted to do it for the fans and the friends I had made up there.’
14 June 2009 Reported that Michael Owen’s management company, Wasserman Media Group, had sent out a 34 page brochure advertising Owen to several targeted potential clubs.
22 June 2009 Michael Owen confirms he has no intention of helping Newcastle get promotion after being one of those chiefly responsible for the relegation. He says that, rather than showing any loyalty to Newcastle, he is looking for a move to a Premier League club, or a top foreign club.
30 June 2009 Michael Owen’s contract comes to an end. He has started only 58 Premier League matches and scored 26 goals. He has been paid at least £22m in wages…you do the maths.
3 July 2009 Michael Owen signs a two year deal to go and sit on Manchester United’s bench (starts 6 PL games in total for Man U).
So a £16m transfer fee and £22m minimum in wages, plus whatever other associated costs (agents, bonuses, whatever), we are looking at £40m wasted on Michael Owen, the return being 26 Premier League goals in those 58 PL starts, and relegation.
Michael Owen also ensuring Newcastle received not a penny in transfer fee either, as he ran out his contract.