SAM Allardyce thinks the Premier Leagueâ€™s Big Four clubs will now be disappointed they didn’t gamble on Michael Owen this summer â€“ and the Newcastle United manager is obviously pleased they didn’t.
Sam always said it was a worry for him that a club could come in for Michael at any time during the summer. That was also true with Oba Martins. Any clubs could have presumably exploited a Â£9M get-out clause in Owenâ€™s contract but none did.
Now with Michael scoring 5 goals in 4 games for Newcastle and England he is starting to look at least as good as he was in the past, and Sam thinks he can get even better.
Sam Allardyce – Michael is back to his best form
This is what Sam told the Newcastle Journal this morning:
â€œThey didnâ€™t want to risk it on the past (injury) record clearly,â€
â€œBased on what has happened over the last few games, Â£9M is a bargain. It was a bit of a risk a few weeks back.â€
Owen has started just 13 games for Newcastle in his first two seasons, but hopefully that number will rise rather rapidly along with the 9 goals he has now scored for the club. It’s certainly been a long haul for player, club and supporters, but patience now looks like it’s paying off big time.
Allardyce was asked if he thought the top clubs had made an error in not pursuing Michael this is how Sam responded:
â€œHindsight is a wonderful thing. If I had it I would be in Marbella with a massive villa and a golf course retired as a multi-millionaire.â€
Our understanding with the release clause is that it only became active when Newcastle failed to qualify for European competition last season. Former Chairman Freddy Shepherd said the window of opportunity to sign Owen at Â£9M closed before the end of August. If we do well this season we assume the release clause cannot be activated again. Of course, what we’d really like to see is Michael sign a new extended contract at Newcastle but Sam, always the pragmatist, is more concerned about ensuring Michael is enjoying his football first and foremost, as he continued:
â€œA player of that caliber will decide what he wants if he stays fit,â€ â€œUnless he likes where he is and is enjoying himself he wonâ€™t enter negotiations.”
“After all the hard work already done under the new chairman and owners, we donâ€™t want to lose our best players.â€â€œIf Michael stays fit, of course I would want him to stay for the rest of his career.”
“In full flow he is a fearsome prospect for any defense in world football.â€ â€œI have to try to help him steer clear of niggly injuries. If we can he is going to be enjoying his football even more.â€
â€œHaving just got back from injury in such a short period of time, not really being 100% fit, he has really done well. The boost in confidence over the last four games has escalated his fitness rapidly.â€
Michael has always preferred to play alongside a big man, which is why Shearer and Owen looked so great together a couple of years ago, and why Emile Heskey and Owen always play well together. Well, we have two big men in the squad in Mark Viduka and Shola Amaeob, so we see no reason why that partnership (big man small man) cannot be duplicated at Newcastle. We also have Andrew Carroll, at 6’3″, one for the future, currently learning his trade at Preston North End. And, of course, we have the emerging great talent of a certain Oba Martins.
Sam went on:
â€œMichael has always liked playing with a big man,â€ â€œEveryone knows that big man, little man combination is better.â€â€œAs a team of players getting to know each other, I try and guide them to where their strengths and weaknesses are.”
“The partnerships between him and Mark, Shola (Ameobi) and Oba (Martins) are the important things we work on, getting an understanding. It is a long haul.â€
â€œWhat formation we play depends on who we have available. We play whatever system suits on the day. I believe the element of surprise and change needs to be in everybodyâ€™s locker, despite what my ex-chairman at Bolton said.â€
Newcastle fans are certainly excited and energized by the great performances of Owen recently for both club and country. Of course Newcastle have started the season under Big Sam very well indeed, and all we need now is 3 points at Derby on Monday evening and everything in the garden will be rosy. 11 points from our first 5 games and more to come, according to both manager Allardyce and captain Geremi.