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Michael Owen signs for Newcastle


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Owen signs for Newcastle

'He's someone we would love to build the team around'

Guardian Staff and agencies

Tuesday August 30, 2005

Newcastle have convinced Michael Owen that his future lies on Tyneside, and have agreed a four-year deal with the England striker.

The 25-year-old met with Magpies representatives in Northumberland yesterday, having also held talks with Liverpool earlier in the day. But with the European champions' proposed offer of £8m believed to have left Real Madrid unimpressed, Owen was quickly running out of options with the close of the transfer window fast approaching.

Owen underwent a medical this afternoon after completing the formalities of his £16m transfer and the club has now confirmed that they will present him to the media at noon tomorrow, and afterwards to the fans.

Speaking from his squad's training camp in Spain, Graeme Souness admitted the signing would represent the "biggest transfer" of his managerial career.

"He's the current England No9 and this club has had a history of wonderful centre-forwards over the years," said Souness. "He's someone who can become a legend with Newcastle United fans.

"In football, the hardest thing to get in your team is someone who puts the ball in the back of the net and Michael is the best at doing that for England. I'd say it's the biggest transfer I've been involved in as a manager of any football club.

"I feel this summer we have signed some top-class footballers for Newcastle United to add to some great players we already have at this club," Souness said. If we can keep them all fit and on the pitch, then we can be a match for anybody."

Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd could barely conceal his delight at the news. "Bringing Michael to St James' Park will rank alongside the signing of Alan Shearer as my proudest moment at Newcastle United," he enthused. "Newcastle fans love centre forwards and Michael is a fantastic goalscorer. He's someone we would love to build the team around and we hope he can help us bring success to the club."

Owen was excused England training today, but even though he is suspended for Saturday's World Cup qualifier against Wales in Cardiff, he will be available for a return against Northern Ireland on Wednesday.

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Shearer and Owen don't seem like complimentary players to me, they both are target players, especially Owen. We'll have to see, but there could be confusion up front for awhile with the Magpies.

Note the comment about the Score bolded. McCarra was a phone-in guest commentator to the Score on the pre-match, and wonder what else he felt about the bizarre combo of James, Budd and the Score estuary voice?


Shearer needs ammunition to help him go out with a bang

Kevin McCarra

Tuesday August 30, 2005

The Guardian

In the build-up to live coverage of Newcastle's match on Sunday the Canadian television station The Score was discussing whether Alan Shearer secretly regrets his spurning of Manchester United. It felt like a time-warp topic. Surely a decision made in 1992 is ancient news even in Toronto.

On reflection, though, those broadcasters may really have been setting the agenda. With Shearer in his final season, the moment has come to start summing up his career. If there has been little focus on the Newcastle captain so far in this country, it may be because misery steals all the headlines at St James' Park.

And yet Shearer is coming to the end. During a trip to Dubai Graeme Souness wheedled the forward into reversing his previous decision to retire but, come next spring, the club's manager, whoever that might be, will surely not be badgering Shearer again. At 35 the attacker is now just tidying his desk.

There is some paperwork to put in order. He has to add another seven goals to his statistics to overtake the Newcastle record of 200 set by Jackie Milburn. It is a demanding target for Shearer in a side yet to hit the net in four Premiership fixtures and the striker himself has not scored a league goal since February.

He did bag a couple against ZTS Dubnica in the Intertoto Cup last month but, as any goal junkie will tell you, there are far too few top-flight equivalents to the works team of a Slovak company that formerly made parts for Soviet Army tanks.

It is particularly important for Shearer to make history by supplanting Milburn because his career, with the exception of a Premiership title at Blackburn, has been devoid of trophies. He had better not be counting on Newcastle to lift either of the domestic cups this season.

Enough of the original Shearer does survive to make him a threat. It has been years since he could burst beyond a defence and there is not enough energy left for him to go often to the wings, from which he used to direct such good crosses, but his strength is still there and so, if he ever gets a chance, will be his fierce accuracy of finishing.

The naked aggression that speaks of a forward moulded in a different age has not faded either and, in the defeat by Manchester United, he was as ready as ever to swap bruises with defenders. In a team of few distinguishing features Shearer remains a magnetic character.

Dropping him is like popping a poison pill, as Ruud Gullit and Sir Bobby Robson could agree after losing the manager's job at Newcastle. Omitting Shearer is a drastic step but there have been regular crises of form for a footballer who has also had to surmount dreadful knee injuries.

Other people's trust in him wavered even if the veteran's faith in himself never did. While it was heresy to sideline Shearer for a match with Sunderland, there were plenty of Newcastle supporters in dreadlock wigs who broadly understood Gullit's misgivings during that period.

It is forgotten, too, that Robson took a great deal of credit for extricating the striker from his slump. By the manager's own account, Shearer's style had to be reconstructed so that there was different positioning and greater movement from a man stuck in the habit of playing with his back to goal.

Thought also has to be given to his needs. When he was in his prime at Blackburn, Kenny Dalglish designed the team to make maximum use of his power and decisiveness. For an old-fashioned forward there had to be an old-fashioned system, so Stuart Ripley and Jason Wilcox were employed to pelt the penalty area with crosses.

The same thinking applied at Newcastle, first with Keith Gillespie and David Ginola on the flanks and then with Nolberto Solano and Laurent Robert. That kind of service is not to be found in the Newcastle line-up for the time being and Shearer needs it even more than a partner in attack such as Michael Owen who could draw defenders' attention away from him.

Of Sunday's line-up in the 2-0 defeat, Kieron Dyer hits too few telling crosses and the initial impression of Albert Luque is that he would prefer to slip inside than menace full-backs on the wings. It was exasperating for a crowd who saw how Shearer can win headers when his knock-down might have led to a goal for Luque.

It is not in Shearer's nature to be discouraged but in his final days he deserves team-mates who present him with the occasional tap-in.

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Looks like our predictions of a year ago about Owen failing to fit into the Galaticos constellation (although he was largely great when he was on the field for them) has panned out.


I really hope things pan out for him in Newcastle. Besides liking th elad's demeanour, we need a Magpie or Spurs revival so the the satanic four of ManU, Arse, Chelski and LFC don't continue to eat everything up for the next 10 years. Charlton looks bright now, and I hope they keep going, but I can't see this as more than a bubble.

One wonders how sincere LFC were about re-signing Owen, probably just another show put on for the Kop. Benitez is probably drawing huges sighs of relief right now.

edit: Stats, albeit old, to consider...


Alan Shearer and Michael Owen started together for England 13 times

England won four, drew four and lost five of those games

The pair combined for nine goals in those games (Shearer five, Owen four)

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World Cup worries force Owen into Premier League return

By Justin Palmer

LONDON, Aug 30 (Reuters) - Michael Owen's decision to abandon the Bernabeu and return to the Premier League with Newcastle United was effectively made last week after a telephone call to England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson.

The 2001 European Footballer of the Year wanted assurances from the Swede that his status as England's first-choice striker approaching World Cup year was not in doubt after a frustrating first season at Real Madrid.

"He is worried about his club football but even more worried about his international place in World Cup year," Eriksson told reporters.

"Michael Owen is 25, a golden age for him, and of course he wants to play in the World Cup.

"If he plays as many games as he did last season I will pick him, but if he never plays it's a tricky one."

With the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany less than a year away, Owen's footballing future had reached a crossroads.

Stay and fight for a place at Real, where he had been pushed even further down the pecking order with the arrival of Brazilians Robinho and Julio Baptista, or seek a return to his homeland and the lure of regular first-team football.

Newcastle were the first to offer Owen a return ticket, agreeing a club record fee of over 15 million pounds ($27.11 million) with Real, but the Chester-born forward appeared set on a return to Liverpool, where he scored 158 goals in 297 matches before joining Real.

Conflicting smoke signals emanating from Anfield suggested that, despite no official bid and protestations from coach Rafa Benitez that he did not need to sign another striker, backroom wheels were beginning to turn.


The striker held talks with Liverpool and Newcastle at the weekend but with the European champions seemingly reluctant to match Newcastle's bid, Owen's hands were tied. A move to the banks of the Tyne and not the Mersey was the only option.

Often described as the "sleeping giant" of British football, Newcastle have not won a domestic trophy since the 1955 FA Cup and the club's huge fan base have become increasingly frustrated at their lack of success.

The reality facing Owen at St James' Park makes unhappy reading.

The only club in British professional football not to score a goal this season, Newcastle have only north-east rivals Sunderland below them after taking just one point from their opening four matches.

European football has already come and gone, Newcastle failing in their bid to secure a UEFA Cup place after losing to Deportivo Coruna in the final round of the Intertoto Cup.

One year after Bobby Robson was sacked as manager, his replacement Graeme Souness finds himself the bookmakers' favourite to become the season's first managerial casualty in the top-flight.

The signings of Owen and Spanish forward Albert Luque, who joined last week from Deportivo, at least take the pressure off Alan Shearer, England's former captain who put his retirement on hold to play another season.

The irony is that, in re-uniting Owen with Shearer, Newcastle have created a strike partnership that never fully gelled at international level.

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who will be upfront for the jordies? Sherer will definatly be there. Will Luque still start? Luque looked ok in his first appearance for the club.

The Owen move is good for all parties.. Owen, Madrid and Newcastle. Should also benefit big Alan, who now will have two quality players to play off of!

yet I dont understand why Owen left in the first place (Liverpool) ????

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Luque's gotta be moved back a little on the left side if both Owen and Shearer are going to start. Dyer has to stay on the right wing, he is too good and the other three all need delivery.

Could be a mess. When it is good, it could be very, very good, but when it is bad it would be horrid.

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