If you’re a football fan, no doubt you’ll have seen the excerpts from Michael Owen’s autobiography detailing his move to Newcastle United back in 2005.
As a lifelong Newcastle fan I can remember the excitement I felt when we agreed to a club-record fee of £16.5 million (A$39.1 million) to bring in a player who was once regarded as one of the premier strikers in the world. Signing Owen was going to be the catalyst to take us to the next level. He was going to be our new hero.
Unfortunately the Michael Owen we signed was a long way removed from the Michael Owen of only a few years prior. In short, he never came close to living up to expectations.
At times he seemed like he was going through the motions, and the revelations in his book confirm that this was the case.
My move to Newcastle was one I really regret – I should have followed my gut instincts from the start. I didn’t want to go there – my heart was still set on a return to Liverpool.
Liverpool couldn’t match Newcastle’s offer. From a career perspective, there was no doubt in my mind that a move to the North East was a downward step.
Being a huge fan of the club also, Freddy (Shepherd) was only doing what all the fans constantly do at almost every football club: they believe that their club is ten per cent bigger and that their team is ten per cent better than it actually is.
This kind of blind delusion is especially true of Newcastle United – which, as I reach for the nearest tin hat, is only a big club in the sense that it has a lot of fans and a big stadium.
They’re historically not successful off the pitch, in fact quite the opposite mostly. And they’ve never really won much on it in recent times.
Understandably these comments have incensed Newcastle fans around the world and have reignited a longstanding feud with Newcastle legend Alan Shearer.
Not sure you are as loyal to Newcastle as you make out mate. I distinctly remember you being inches away from signing for Liverpool after Sir Bobby Robson put you on the bench. You tried everything to get out. https://t.co/ZQBrlojeEv
Newcastle fans are often pigeonholed as being deluded or demanding success, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. All we ask for is effort. Fans can see who plays for the badge, and it was evident that Owen was only there to collect his wages. That’s unforgivable.
It’s also ironic that Owen claims we’re not a big club, yet he’s very happy to use us to drum up publicity for his new book.
That a player as prodigiously talented as Owen has alienated the fans of nearly every club he’s played for speaks volumes of his character.
We find ourselves with another season of the A-League upon us. But more than just a season, we find ourselves at a critical juncture in the game’s history. Years of poor governance and mismanagement set us upon a downward trajectory, but there is a glimmer of hope.
What club would let go of a world-class manager who’s won the Champions League and was willing the club to greater heights? A man loved by the fans with proven success both globally and within the Premier League?