Ex-Newcastle United chairman bafflingly attributes Michael Owen signing to fans

Freddie Shepherd

Michael Owen struggled for both fitness and form at Newcastle United, leaving on a free after signing for £17m.

It seems rather strange to hate Michael Owen. After all, the most offensive action he could muster is commenting on former Real Madrid team-mate Ronaldo’s girth or perhaps a few ill-judged punditry quips.

Yet, it’s fair to say Owen wouldn’t cop too many complementary drinks if he sauntered through The Toon on a Saturday night. The former England goal-machine was one of the most lethal strikers in the world on his day but, 12 years after his arrival, even former Newcastle United chairman Freddie Shepherd has admitted the decision was little else than a momentous mistake, The Chronicle reports.

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Owen, after just one season warming the Real bench, returned to English football with Newcastle in the summer of 2005, becoming their club record signing in a £17 million deal, The Chronicle adds.

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Yet, thanks to a succession of debilitating injuries, the 2001 Ballon D’Or winner found the back of the net just 26 times in Newcastle colours in the Premier League, departing immediately after their 2009 relegation to sign for Manchester United as a free agent.

And Shepherd admits he regrets signing the striker, though bizarrely claims the fans must accept their share of the blame.

Freddie Shepherd

“Michael Owen was nearly £20m and I did get it wrong - I should never have signed him,” Shepherd said in quotes reported by The Chronicle.

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“But the crowd wanted him, the supporters wanted him, everyone did at the time. I was sort of swept along with the tide and I did it. I shouldn’t have done.”

You’d hope an intelligent, experienced businessman wouldn’t be so easily swayed.

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