Michael Owen signs
31st August 2005
Quote of the day: "When it came down to Real Madrid or Newcastle there was no question in my mind."
Amazing scenes at St. James' Park on Wednesday as Michael Owen became a Newcastle player for the next four years and signed his contract that contains no get-out clause.
Owen said all the right things as a very negative press conference was handled well by our smiling new no.10 with Freddy Shepherd having to intervene at one point when an ITV reporter pushed Owen on whether he would stay more than a year.
Inside the stadium a packed Sir John Hall stand waited for the striker to appear in a black and white shirt although early arrivals had a brief glimpse just after 11am.
He duly arrived on the pitch clad in the home kit just before 1.00pm and in front of what must have been something like 15,000 fans, he was interviewed on a hastily constructed platform.
The reception was outstanding and seemingly appreciated by a genuinely overwhelmed Owen. There were a few cringeworthy moments when our record signing was left holding the baby and made to stand with a group of kids who were almost as tall as him.
Chants of Souness, Souness were also a little squirm-inducing but the assembled masses thankfully stopped short of chanting, "there's only one Freddy Shepherd"....
Here is what Owen had to say (you can hear a re-run of the press conference by visiting the BBC Tyne website here):
obviously had bit of a head-spinning couple of days. But to
start with, that's not a complaint, as I've had three great
clubs in the frame - Newcastle, Liverpool and Real Madrid. The
further, further it got to the deadline, the more and more it
started getting clear that Newcastle were going to be my
Owen also commented further on his decision to come to Tyneside:
had chats with a lot of teams. Obviously Liverpool were
You're not the only one, bonny lad....
Unfortunately, just as Alan Robson had done his best to spoil the Alan Shearer unveiling, Sky's idiotic Jim White performed his circus routine in front of the Leazes end. Someone throw him a fish....
Just after 10am on Tuesday, 30th August 2005 the news broke on the official website that Michael Owen was to sign a four-year deal with Newcastle United for a confirmed fee of £16m.
Owen passed his medical on Tuesday and is to be unveiled at St. James' Park this afternoon. He has already had a walk around the pitch holding his bairn with manager Graeme Souness.
After being introduced to the media at noon, our new no.10 will appear on the pitch in front of a packed Sir John Hall stand at around 1pm (doors open at 11.30).
It's interesting to see how the news is being received around the globe. Ranging from jubilant Geordies to sour-faced Scousers and envious others who seem only too keen to question Owen's motives, fitness and ability to play alongside Alan Shearer.
The BBC and others were still maintaining that Liverpool were going to stage a last minute bid to snatch Owen right up until late on Tuesday evening.
Good, let them all talk. This is a monumental signing that is only just sinking in for most of us. To have captured the current England centre forward at the peak of his career to play alongside Shearer is simply staggering.
And even if the signing of Owen doesn't come off, to see Phil Pinocchio Thompson absolutely gutted on national TV is worth £16m of anyone's money. With sour-grapes twisting his features, the former Liverpool coach and player said: "Newcastle was always his second choice but somehow, some way it's all turned itself round." Marvellous.
The Liverpool Echo claimed the contract has a £12m buyout clause after one season, while Radio 5Live claimed that Newcastle will foot the bill for helicopter rides to and from Chester to training!
However, this one-year get-out clause has been categorically denied by Freddy Shepherd.
To get Owen to sign for anything other than a year-long loan is miraculous. The thought of Owen scoring a hat-trick for us, rather than against us is certainly one to savour.
All that remains now is for us to sign up the world's leading hamstring expert....
Speaking in Tuesday's Times, Michael Owen revealed that Alan Shearer's powers of persuasion were one of the main reasons he decided to sign for Newcastle - revealing Big Al even offered Owen the legendary no.9 shirt:
In his column Owen says:
It was at 1.30 in the early hours of yesterday that I finally decided that I was joining Newcastle United. That decision concluded a head-spinning 24 hours when, from one moment to the next, I thought I might be returning to Liverpool or staying at Real Madrid.
Although there had been a lot of agonising, and a lot of telephone calls, it was an easy decision in the end. People will point out that, only a week or so ago, I listed Newcastle as the last of my options but circumstances change very quickly, as I have discovered.
Given that I will be running out to play football in front of more than 50,000 of the country’s most passionate supporters next week, I am not about to cast around for sympathy.
It was a very long day on Monday but, as I went through the same circle of late-night calls with the three clubs involved in my dilemma, I felt that to return to Madrid would be the wrong decision. I want to play regularly and, if I am honest, part of me had missed the passion of the Premiership.
uncertain that a Liverpool bid would be accepted in time and I
wanted to play for a club who really wanted me. My mind was made
up, particularly when I thought back to the excellent meeting I
had enjoyed with the Newcastle directors, management and Alan
seven years to the day that Michael Owen netted three times at
St.James' Park, Freddy Shepherd, Graeme Souness and Alan
Shearer have somehow convinced the England striker to turn
down a return to Anfield.
countdown has begun to the 2006 World Cup, with Michael Owen
making a move to keep in Sven's plans ahead of next June's
Jamboree in Germany.
Michael Marks and Tom Spencer registered the St. Michael trademark almost a century ago and since then it has been a label associated with quality on the High Street.
The Marks and Spencer partnership is now legendary and despite a few recent sticky patches the business seems set to continue for some time.
So what about our own recent St. Michael purchase?
Like everyone else we were basking in the glory on Wednesday, having enjoyed a few days of much-needed good news. Despite our natural cynicism we certainly weren't going to be the ones to relieve ourselves on everyone else's chips....
However, now that reality has had a chance to intervene and the warm euphoric glow has started to wear off, the signing of Michael Owen is one that needs to be considered carefully.
It was a fabulous bit of business by our Chairman - that is a given - and a huge amount of credit is due for pinching Owen from Real Madrid and from under the noses of Liverpool. The hefty £16m bid was a masterstroke but can we afford it?
It just seems a little odd that we unloaded players for relative peanuts at the start of the summer when it appeared we were searching down the back of the sofa for loose change to put into the transfer kitty.
And several media sources now seem to think that after the £9.5m purchase of Albert Luque we were still prepared to offer £30m for Atletico Madrid's Fernando Torres, if the Owen bid had failed. Suddenly £40m seemed to be burning a hole in the Chairman's pocket.
As astute as the £16m bid was in pricing out the European Champions, it seems widely accepted that we've paid well over the odds for Owen. £11m was a figure that most regarded as his market price a month ago but we've wasted that sort of money more scandalously in the past:
Cort - cost £7m, sold for £2m
And that's to name just three.
So we raised the bar to secure Owen's signature. That's fine by me. We hoodwinked Real for nearly £14m for a crocked Jonathan Woodgate so Owen for Woody+£2m is a deal most of us would have taken, regardless of the gross sums involved.
Of course, Marks and Sparks have always had a reputation for refunds so perhaps if we hang on to the receipt the St. Michael tag might still get us our money back, or perhaps an exchange or even a credit note....
Wednesday's St. James' Park PR exercise was worth a fortune to Freddy and the club. His personal stock shot up to a degree that would raise more than eyebrows on the stock exchange. "The Board" and the manager have bought some priceless breathing space. The feel good factor is back on Tyneside.
We said not so long ago that bringing in a new manager or Michael Owen would be like putting a sticking plaster over a festering wound and post-Bolton there were few who argued with us. Of course that was said when we were at a real low point and not many thought signing Owen was a realistic prospect.
Perhaps Owen's arrival can be like Elastoplast's new Silver Healing Sensitive plaster which has "a unique silver pad that contains silver ions that are continually released during the healing process, fighting bacteria while your skin heals naturally".
Something silver this season would certainly heal many of this correspondent's open sores....
Momentum is a huge thing in football and when things get on a downward spiral it takes something extraordinary to halt the process. Whatever the reason Michael Owen has ended up at St. James', who cares? It's all of our jobs to make sure he stays.
Along with the manager and Chairman, the whole club may have just been given a fortunate reprieve, the crime would be not to look this gift-horse straight in the mouth and go all-out to make up the 10 point headstart we've given the other Champions League challengers.
Our defence may still be a little frail, our midfield has been bolstered but what we really needed was some quality support up front - and that's another St. Michael speciality....