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Michael Owen promised legal action after claims he refused to play for Newcastle – What happened?

3 months ago
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Michael Owen has claimed that he put his ‘body on the line’ to try and help Alan Shearer to save Newcastle United from relegation in 2008-09.

I think that he has a major psychological problem, when he speaks about himself it rarely touches reality, maybe Owen’s greatest skill is that he is capable of believing things that are so untrue.

In this interview with ESPN to coincide with his book coming out, Michael Owen states ‘But to get to the top of your profession you need to have unbelievable drive and confidence.’

This is the same person who has now said he wished he had retired at the age of 25 instead of carrying on and playing for Newcastle, Man Utd and Stoke. What drive? To sit on the sidelines/bench and get paid a fortune for doing  next to nothing.

I also dragged out a piece I wrote (see below) about Michael Owen back in July 2018. It quotes from the excellent Paul Ferris book where the former Newcastle physio states that in from of him (Ferris) and four other people, Michael Owen said he didn’t want to play in the relegation run-in because he might get injured and it affect his chances of getting a contract elsewhere once he became a free agent in summer 2009.

As you can also see below, Michael Owen last year promised legal action for libel in response to what Paul Ferris had written, Owen writing on Twitter: ‘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.’

Funnily enough, fully 19 months after the Paul Ferris book was published (and then had a paperback version and won awards etc etc), still no legal action from Michael Owen. I wonder why…

In his new interview, Michael Owen talks about the big clash with Alan Shearer being  about the very final game against Aston Villa, claiming he’d put his body on the line by playing  the final 23 minutes as a sub. In the Paul Ferris book, it was actually the Fulham match fully eight days before the Villa game when Ferris confronted Michael Owen and  he refused to play, despite no injury showing.

Quite amazingly, in this ESPN interview, Michael Owen claims that Alan Shearer is in denial and wants to scapegoat Owen to deflect the blame for taking Newcastle United down: ‘It’s a compliment to Alan Shearer. He’s had to find some way of not blaming himself, I guess, for what happened with Newcastle.’

Even if you overlook Michael Owen refusing to play in those vital relegation games, the idea that relegation was somehow Alan Shearer’s fault is laughable.

First and foremost it was Mike Ashley for forcing out Kevin Keegan and employing Joe Kinnear, amongst many other shocking actions.

Second, it was gutless players unwilling to give their all. Michael Owen was England’s centre-forward and by far Newcastle’s biggest earner, yet he gave no leadership to others and was really poor on the pitch, making 28 Premier League appearances that season but only scoring eight goals.

If there was a list of people to blame for that relegation in 2008/09, Michael Owen will be far nearer the top than Alan Shearer, who was only there for six weeks and eight games.

Michael Owen speaking to ESPN:

“If Alan Shearer has come to the conclusion that I didn’t fancy playing in the last game against Aston Villa because I was worried about getting injured and subsequently worried about my next move then, if that’s what’s in his head and that’s how he’s overcome his disappointment of not being a success as Newcastle manager, then that’s fine in a way.

“It’s almost like a grieving period and sometimes you have got to blame someone else.

“I’ve done it loads of times in my life. Do you think I’ve come off a pitch and said ‘I’ve been rubbish today, it’s all my fault?’ No way. You’ll never be a footballer if you’re like that.

“Very rarely if you’re right at the top of the game do you blame yourself.

“As I say, it’s a compliment to Alan Shearer. He’s had to find some way of not blaming himself, I guess, for what happened with Newcastle.

“But I find it hard that he’s come to the decision to blame me for it when I was hardly fit in the period he took over, and then I actually put my body on the line in the last game when really I was a week or two away from being fit from a groin injury.

“So I get it, I don’t agree with it. I don’t think that he will ever change his mind, change his view, so I almost think that bit is pointless.

“We were big mates prior to him taking charge of Newcastle but that was the turning point really and since then we haven’t been big mates, let’s say.

“I know the reasons why, I’ve obviously said those in the book. He has his reasons and that’s where we are I guess.

“Some people are having a go at me when it’s not even what I said and once they read it in the book they’ll think ‘wow, actually I get what he’s saying now.’

“But to get to the top of your profession you need to have unbelievable drive and confidence.”

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 (and showing an image of the page 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 an 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.

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