Owen and Martins Fighting for Same Starting Place

Very good report in the Times this morning from George Caulkin, one of our favorite writers on Newcastle.

George has spoken with Big Sam and not surprisingly Sam has said Owen and Martins will be fighting for the same place at Newcastle.

That’s not surprising to us since when they played together last season they looked far too similar to be an effective combination but let’s take a look at what Sam says – sounds like more plain talk from him    😀


Michael Owen – no guaranteed place at Newcastle?

This is what Big Sam told the Times today:

“I’m very happy with the five strikers I’ve got,”

“I think four is the minimum you go into a new season with and we have got a good variety.”

“We can also use a bit of squad rotation and have competition for places, which is what you need for your front men.”

“Oba was the main man last year because Michael was kept out with injuries, but they will be fighting with each other for a place in the side this season.”

“Perhaps even the pair of them will play together with one of the big men on occasions as well.”

“When I arrived, one of the biggest worries was not knowing about Michael’s future, but since then the biggest frustration has been his niggling injuries,”

“He is still game short, not just in terms of pre-season, but all of last season as well. He has not played much football at all recently.”

“It must be terrible for him.”

With all the fuss that went on about Owen staying or going in the summer, who would have thought then that Michael may even struggle to get into the first team on a regular basis?  We feel quite a few fans may prefer Martins because he had an excellent first season at the club last year, scoring 17 goals when the team itself did not perform well.

Owen and Martins could play together in a 4-3-3 formation (at home) with one of the big men, Viduka or Ameobi, up front with them. Alan Smith could also play as the third striker in this formation. It’s obvious that Sam is spoiled for choice with our strikers – which is very good for the team.

That has to be a compliment to Big Sam for the players he has brought into the squad since he arrived - and we still think we’ll get at least another two in before the end of the month.

It will be interesting to check the discussion topic today and see how many have Martins or Owen in their first teams.

Comments welcome as usual.

26 comments so far

  • Melbourne Mag

    Aug 9, 2007 at 10:29 AM

    Comment #1

    Great site Ed – helps keep us far flung geordies up to date.

    Personally, I would play Owen (if fit) in preference to Martins alongside Viduka. Martins is a great asset to have to bring on as defences tire. Smith in behind and Milner & Zog on the wings will provide the bullets – awaresome!!

  • Craig F

    Aug 9, 2007 at 10:30 AM

    Comment #2

    As I have said before on this site I would pick Martins – he deserves to play for his commitment, effort in pre-season and goals last season but I also think that he’s a better player than Owen. People say you are guaranteed goals from Owen – rubbish! He is a good finisher with good movement, but he has lost his pace and his edge. Owen WAS a top player four years ago but all you’re guaranteed now is injuries. 9 goals in 10 games is impressive but if thats all u get per season I dont think its worth making our best little striker unhappy for. I’d play Martins and Smith upfront as often as possible.

  • Rob Kirton

    Aug 9, 2007 at 10:32 AM

    Comment #3

    Given their respective playing styles, Owns fitness record and Martins potential long time out to the African Cup of Nations in 2008, seems to make sense.

    Competition for places seems to also keep some players on their toes. Lets see what it does for these two

  • Hammy

    Aug 9, 2007 at 10:33 AM

    Comment #4

    At this stage I’d have Martins in the team…..even when Owen is fit he hasn’t played hardly any football over the last two years and he would probably need a fair few reserve games to get his sharpness and timing back.
    There is no substitute for games. I’d be surprised to see Owen playing first team football befeore October.

  • Dave

    Aug 9, 2007 at 10:40 AM

    Comment #5

    It’s a brilliant situation to be in. Two top drawer strikers slugging it out to get a first team place. I think with injuries and fixtures they’ll both get a decent crack of the whip too. NUFC aren’t used to having such depth but these two players will be used to playing in teams where squad depth and a certain amount of rotation and competition are the norm. They’ll be fine, perhaps even thrive on it 🙂

    I love this bit from BSA “Perhaps even the pair of them will play together with one of the big men on occasions as well.” ….now that’s scary.

    I’m more worried about our other strikers,particularly Ameobi and Caroll. Luque and Smith can be given games elsewhere on the pitch, they have other dimensions to their game but A & C might struggle for apperances especially if Vids hits form and stays injury free. I still think a loan for Caroll would be an idea and can unfortunately see Shola moving on in Jan 08.

  • Kash

    Aug 9, 2007 at 10:48 AM

    Comment #6

    The fact of the matter is that Martins will start as Owen is injured. I believe Martins is going to notch quite a few goals, and if and when he does, Owen won’t get back into the side till Martins dissapears for ANC duty. Smudger I expect will play in the advanced attacking midfield role so that we defend from the fron and apply pressure on defences. Start of the season is always a good time to hassle and harry defences which are usually the slowest players to pick up the pace of EPL football.
    Against Bolton, we defend deep with the midfield holding in front of defence and we’ll attack quickly off the break. I don;t expect our Bolton game to be very exciting but we’ll either score off the set-piece or a counter goal. But I do expect and hope for our 1st clean sheet of the season at the reebok unless Anelka scores a wonder goal!

  • Coolsmurf

    Aug 9, 2007 at 11:21 AM

    Comment #7

    am still not sold on owen playing at all and even if he does play, he will break down yet again….martins would surely play more often

  • shaun d

    Aug 9, 2007 at 11:27 AM

    Comment #8

    If Owen can get back to form of old and stay injury free then he will score more goals than Martins and convert more chances. That IF however, is a big one. Let’s not forget Martins isn’t quite the finished article, he can learn from an on form michael owen. Kash – Agree that Martins will get the first bite of the cherry and it’s up to him to play well enough to keep owen out and vice versa with the african nations. Can only be good for the quality of the team.

  • shaun d

    Aug 9, 2007 at 11:30 AM

    Comment #9

    Way off track but does anybody know why Barton is denying the charge relating to that attack on dabo? and what the charge is?

  • Dingo

    Aug 9, 2007 at 11:53 AM

    Comment #10

    we dont know exactly shaun d…… all that i know is that ‘apperently’ JB left Dabo looking like the elephant man. I am sure we will find out the details after the trail.

  • Jon Armann

    Aug 9, 2007 at 11:53 AM

    Comment #11

    Owen or Martins??? hmmmm, i would choose Martins now, but as you guys say, IF Owen, yes IF and i doub it, he would get maybe 30 games under is belt he would score at least 20 goals, and im not sure he can play 30 games, i really hope so, as for Martins, hes just the man, when hes on the pitch its fun to watch, he was good last season, but not at his best, so im looking forward of seeing him this season, i say 25 goals for Martins this season 😉 As for Viduka and Ameobi and of course young Carroll, if Always been a fan of Viduka since he was at Celtic, and he is top quility, as for Ameobi, im sorry ive never really liked him as a player, but im willing to give him a chance this season, and next summer he will leave im sure, As for Carroll, looking forward of seeing a top striker being born 😉

  • rich

    Aug 9, 2007 at 12:15 PM

    Comment #12

    I would choose Martins, but its good options to have…. imagine your a prem defender and the toon take off Martins after 60-70 mins, and you think ‘thank god’ only for Owen to come on!!!

    i used to think that when we played chelsea and they would swap players like Robben for SWP etc…

  • Phil P

    Aug 9, 2007 at 12:24 PM

    Comment #13

    Shaun D- i think bartons denying it because he claims it was self defence- Dabo hit him first & pearce is a defence witness i think. and hes been charged with actual bodily harm.

    Atm I’d play Martins over Owen, purely beacuse Owen hasn’t proved hes back to his best yet, or anywhere close to it for that matter. Against big, slow defences though the thought of playing both of them is great 😀

  • shaun d

    Aug 9, 2007 at 1:37 PM

    Comment #14

    Rich – know exactly what you mean! that would be great!
    Thanks Phil P

  • AndyW

    Aug 9, 2007 at 1:38 PM

    Comment #15

    Martins has to get the nod at the moment but I worry about his link up play and think MO is a better team player in this respect.

    No disrespect to Oba as he does have the energy, power and skill and is great to watch. I just think SAm might prefer MO’s qualities.

  • Bosck

    Aug 9, 2007 at 3:02 PM

    Comment #16

    Shaun D & Phil P – Thats the thing the press neglect to comment on, if it was actually a fight between the pair, instead saying that Barton attacked Dabo.

    I’m not condoning what Barton did in any shape or form, but if Dabo has insulted him and/or then attacked him then Barton has a right to defend himself. if in doing so he did more damage to Dabo then Dabo did to him that is not Bartons fault.

    Doubt he’ll go to prison even if convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, that offence is more likely to mean a fine and community service plus possibly a suspended sentence.

  • Keep Oba

    Aug 9, 2007 at 4:04 PM

    Comment #17

    Martins scored 17 with nobody, or Sib, or Duffer next to him most of last season…I would like to see him with some actual help along side or right behind this year.

  • todd

    Aug 9, 2007 at 4:20 PM

    Comment #18

    I think it is going to be striker by committee. Between injuries, EPL, Carling, FA and Africa, Asia and Euro stuff going on, everybody is going to get a bite at the apple. The idea of a big guy and a small guy, Smith in behind and Milner & Zog (or Luque or Dyer or Duff for Pete’s sake…) on the wings to provide service, that could be some potent stuff.

  • 9th June

    Aug 9, 2007 at 4:23 PM

    Comment #19

    You would expect Big Sam to come out and say that but in reality when Owen is fit he’ll play, no question.

  • Dirk

    Aug 9, 2007 at 5:02 PM

    Comment #20

    I’d say it depends upon the team we play against, if they have a slow defence then put martins in, he’ll rip them to shreds!, if theyve got an experienced defence then play owen because he knows the premier league teams well and would certaintly no how to get past them. Totally agree with ‘Keep Oba’ martins scores 17 wiv no help, imagine him with viduka helpin out making chances for him! look at berbatov i no it was his first season, bu i would expect martins would have scored more than 23 if he had keane or defoe next to him!

  • Ed Harrison

    Aug 9, 2007 at 5:42 PM

    Comment #21

    9th June – you’re probably right about that – and Martins certainly seems to have an improved attitude on saying he’s happy to fight for his place – more magic from Big Sam probably with Martins. Also like the way N’Zogbia has responded – he’s now looking the great player we always knew he was. Just 2 more signings and we should have very strong squad for the season – seems as though they’re (Sam, Mort) working on bringing in couple of new players

  • Tom_Toon

    Aug 9, 2007 at 6:37 PM

    Comment #22

    Owen has to proove himself this season, not only with his fitness but goal tally, we know he can score, but can he score after that injury?

  • 9th June

    Aug 9, 2007 at 7:42 PM

    Comment #23

    So Dirk, what you’re saying is if we play, let’s say Wigan, we’ll drop Owen because their defense is slow? I don’t think so!

  • Dirk

    Aug 9, 2007 at 8:03 PM

    Comment #24

    9th june – wa im sayin is martins would do far better job against slower teams as owen has no were near the pace martins has got

  • Lawman

    Aug 10, 2007 at 4:20 AM

    Comment #25

    I’d have to go for Martins. Even if Owen IS physically fit, it’ll take him quite a few games to get match fit….. but his biggest problem is maintaining that fitness….. too fragile.

    Having seen Luque’s pre-season effort, let’s give they guy a chance. He’s be a strong powerful striker like Viduka. Don’t rate Ameobi but young Carol looks very promising. But he’ll most likely be loaned out i think.

  • Laura

    Aug 12, 2007 at 7:00 PM

    Comment #26

    Depending on the opposition, we should always play all 3 strikers (Martins, Owen, Viduka). If Owen was fit yesterday he would have started up front along side Vid n Martins.

    When we don’t play 4-3-3, then it will be very hard for Big Sam to turn his back on either player however there’s no doubt in my mind that I’d rather have Martins out there than Owen any day.

    On the other hand, can you really see Michael Owen sitting on the subs bench when he’s fully fit?!

    Martins has never complained once about his time at Newcastle. Last season was shocking but he kept his head down, worked hard and scored some vital goals. Where was Michael Owen, picking up his pay cheque with a great big smile on his face!

    And Martins never once said he was interested in a move to Arsenal. He wants to be here, he WANTS to play for Newcastle, which is far more than can be said for Michael Owen.

    Play Oba every time… not least for his loyalty!


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