Owen and Duff Couldn’t Have Worked Harder – Keegan

Kevin Keegan talked today about two of his most experienced players in Michael Owen and Damien Duff.


Michael Owen and Damien Duff – two of our experienced Internationals

Kevin talked to the Newcastle Journal about the two experienced Internationals:

“Since I’ve come, I think people like Michael Owen could not have worked any harder. I really believe that. We could have supplied him with better service and given him a few more opportunities, but Michael’s commitment since I’ve been here has been terrific.”

“You have to remember that he hadn’t played eight matches in a row before I came here. Damien Duff has had his problems as well. It’s easy to put that to one side and say that didn’t happen, but the reality is that it did.”

We agree and since Michael was given the captain’s armband he’s performed very well and got back nicely on the goals trail. The matches have been difficult for Michael up front, because we’ve been walloped in quite a few games recently. But we’ve been pleased with Michael’s attitude, and he seems more committed to Newcastle than ever.

Damien has done very very well since he came back from his very bad ankle injury, and we thought he was Newcastle’s best players on Saturday.

He got in a few good shots and was a great example to the others as he worked his socks off for the cause the entire game. It’s not hard to see when a player is giving his absolute all – and that was very clear with Duff on Saturday.

Damien is also starting to show some of his old form. We just need all the players to play better individually, so we can quickly get out of this hole we are sinking into. Maybe that will happen on Saturday – we hope…..

Comments welcome.

23 comments so far

  • adam

    Feb 26, 2008 at 11:33 AM

    Comment #1

    pay me that much and ill work just as hard

  • Ausgeordie

    Feb 26, 2008 at 12:00 PM

    Comment #2

    At least he tried to make something happen

  • Spitfire

    Feb 26, 2008 at 12:27 PM

    Comment #3

    unfortunately its not just about hard work, its also about flair talent and creativity

  • Bill F

    Feb 26, 2008 at 12:41 PM

    Comment #4

    Taylor also worked his butt off, but unlike like last year and the early part of this season he looked as though he hadn’t a clue what he was supposed to be doing. Like everyone else I think it’s the midfield leaving the defence with to much to do.

  • Paul R

    Feb 26, 2008 at 12:57 PM

    Comment #5

    what !! ?? i just get the impression definately with own he just couldnt give a hoot about nufc he just seems to care about england and liverpool, you watch he will get injured soon as he wont want to score against them !! heavens forbid he should score a few and help us climb the league to safety !! i would play martis over owen i mean he is our top goal scorer still despite the fact he has been missing for 2 months !!





    This would give us enough to climb the league and my subs to see out the game would be


    all to run the clock down and make us more workman like to keep hold of a lead i believe my team at the top would give you, as in our position we cant keep conceding daft goals to give away matches !!

  • mikeygd

    Feb 26, 2008 at 1:08 PM

    Comment #6

    Paul i must admit i do like ure team. But i agree with the comments on Duff, i didnt rate him at first when he got back from injury but he has definately shown alot of improvement over the few weeks and his head never seems to go down like most players. Still think Owen would rather be with Liverpool and wish we could swap him with someone faster, but if we do give him the right service im sure he will prove me and u wrong.

  • HonoraryGeordie

    Feb 26, 2008 at 1:08 PM

    Comment #7

    Paul R, Your team is about what I would play! Without Martins we are blunt, his pace gives the opposition a worry and makes them prone to error! But in fairness, I think Owen doesn’t deserve to be dropped just yet, and I think Lua-Lua is a bench player at best at the min, he’s rough around the edges and needs weening in to the first team, as does Carroll.
    My team would be –
    Beye Taylor Cacapa Enrique
    Milner Barton/Zog/Emre Duff/Zog
    Martins Owen


    Beye Taylor Edgar Enrique
    Barton Emre/Zog
    Martins Carroll Owen

    We either win the battle with four good footballers in the middle, and play to the strengths of Owen and Martins, or we play with 3 hard working midfielders and use Carroll as a battering ram with owen and martins playing off him.

  • mikeygd

    Feb 26, 2008 at 1:10 PM

    Comment #8

    i would love to see what that team could do paul

  • Paul R

    Feb 26, 2008 at 1:15 PM

    Comment #9

    I just think that owen and martins cant play together and owen has lost his pace and scare factor and I just thought with carroll there flicking on balls for martin lua lua milner and n zogbia that you have pace all over and that would scare defenders in to mistakes and allow us to score a few as we need to as our defence will always leak goals and then i thought to use owen when the opposition is a little tired (to maximum effect) he might stand a chance of scoring a few !! i just feel barton butt duff smith owen emre are all to slow and defenders know they cant go past them !!

  • Paul R

    Feb 26, 2008 at 1:22 PM

    Comment #10

    i also just cant wait to get to the end of the season (i never ever thought io would hear myself say that as i live n breathe my footie!) but hasnt the last few seasons just got more depressing !!?? how much more can we take ?? i really hope that keegan and ashley stick to their word pull their finger and even if we arent ripping up trees like in the “old days” then atleast we are going about playing football in the true sense and the fans atleast have HOPE !! because atleast if we have HOPE back then there is something to cheer at the moment we have no hope and therefore we turn up watch and support the lads through Blind faith, and thats scary because that means bad times ahead ! we will avoid this though if keegan gets back to basics next season ! TOON TOON !


    Feb 26, 2008 at 1:37 PM

    Comment #11

    just like someone said earlier on hear, there is very little point in making predictions which do not include butt smith and barton because for some reason they always get picked…

    so hears my punt for saterday haha

    beye faye taylor enrique
    milner lualua nzogbia duff
    owen martins


    or keegans version which i expect

    beye faye taylor nzogbia
    milner butt barton duff
    owen smith

    sick or what.

    hopefully these three will be gone in the summer

  • mikeygd

    Feb 26, 2008 at 1:42 PM

    Comment #12

    i agree, barton is so slow and passes the ball to the other team along with butt and smith i dno he just ain’t good.
    I would like to see Kev do wat Coppell is going to do at reading.
    Come out and say to the Press i’ve been patient but i give up with the first teamers at the mo, they just aren’t performing so i’m going to bring in some of the reserves and see if they can do any better because it cant get much worst. Would love it if he did it, would Love it.

    Just think with Ashley over him he might be a bit scared to do so but the old Kev would have and i think sooner rather than later Kev will do right thing. Lets have faith.

  • Paul R

    Feb 26, 2008 at 4:00 PM

    Comment #13

    I think LuaLua & Carroll atleast if not Edgar deserve a chance and enrique to for that matter what have we to loose?

    can it get worse what loosing 6-1 or 7-1 ???

    I think Lua Lua especially in the middle could be a great player

  • Michael

    Feb 26, 2008 at 4:48 PM

    Comment #14

    Well said spitfire, hardwork alone cannot get the job done. Similarily I have argued that while Keegan can motivate, motivation cannot do it alone, tactics and ideas are much more important. Since KEegan has come the players have been motivated and if the results we have seen since he arrived are anything to go by, then this proves me right, motivation is by no means important, tactics clearly are of the greatest importance. If Keegan does not know tactics, we are screwed. Simple!

  • subz

    Feb 26, 2008 at 7:00 PM

    Comment #15

    Duff does work hard, I’ll give you that! He is well set for that noble Oirish art of digging holes when he retires. Thats all I see him do.

    Sorry Ed, we need to get these decent( I say that very loosely for some) individuals playing as a team. On the few occasions when we have done that this year we have looked quite good!

    Owen has been good of late for me, he is working harder, looking stronger and fitter than I’ve seen him since he got here. He gets nothing to work with so we cannot judge him really

    I said quite a while back that we will get nothing from games with Butt and Smith in the side, the ball just keeps coming back at us too often for us to deal with. I’m at a loss as to how they get picked!

  • Ian

    Feb 27, 2008 at 9:15 AM

    Comment #16

    I get sick of hearing that Owen has nothing to work with, no service etc, how many of Torres’, Rooney’s or Ronaldo’s goals are passes where they are stood waiting to touch the ball in to the net????

    We are going back about a decade where players could stand amongst defenders and wait for the pass to touch it in to goal, back to Andy Cole and Ian Rush days, defenses are better than that nowerdays, only Beckham who is raved about all over the World and a couple of others can still pick out one player in a group with an inch perfect pass to beat defenders and that has usually to be Peter Crouch who stands one foot taller than everyone else! Apart from set pieces it takes strikers who are either fast, strong, or can work and weave until they create an opening to score in the premiership now, I am trying to think of one striker other than Owen who stands waiting for the pass, Andy Johnson started doing that a few weeks ago and his goals dried up, now he is back to charging in on his old style runs with success again, it just doesnt work today, the only way it might work for Owen is picking up the scraps from some of Martins runs, but then it begs the question why we do not replace Owen with another fast player (but taller) who can create their own chances as well as pick up any rebounds etc. If Owen cant assist Martins or link with Martins I cannot see any point in keeping him, how many here would rather have a Djibril Cisse, Benjani, Yakubu or Defoe (a bit short but good player) type on that side of the pitch instead if you could swap today??

    If Owen doesnt work with Martins in my opinion he has to go.

  • Reb

    Feb 27, 2008 at 4:09 PM

    Comment #17

    The only problem with your reasoning, Ian, is that I haven’t seen Owen “standing around” in the last several matches — except when everyone else is, at set plays. Think I can forgive him that, then. So your logic is undermined from the start.

    You keep putting forth Martins as some sort of saviour. Newcastle’s strikers are not going to SOLVE the current problem, because they do not CONSTITUTE the problem — no matter which ones play — the midfield is a total clusterf***.

    Now, I admit that Martins has some very good qualities and ones that the squad needs at the moment. I think he could be an efficient partner for Owen, and infinitely better than Smith, also generally more fit than Viduka. He has pace, and can be utterly unpredictable. But Martins has flaws too — and more of them than Owen does, believe it or not.

    Martins is pacy, but unintelligent in his runs. His first touch can be shambolic more often than not. His movement is so unpredictable it’d be wasted at least half the time even if Newcastle had a decent midfield, though it does seem to occupy defenders. His finishing is less than consistent. Most matches, he seems to need at least 5 chances to get one decently on target. He helps create more chances, though.

    Owen is slower than Martins (though not particularly slow, from what I’ve seen) but far more intelligent in his runs. His movement is consistent, a decent midfield could put the ball where he needs it. His first touch seems to have improved a lot in the last few years (since his time at Madrid, imo). His finishing is consistent, on about a 2 chances = 1 goal rate. He’s less creative, but provides better link play than Martins (that first touch issue).

    The combination of the two would force defenders to actually mark both strikers, which would help them both. Either one, played with one of Newcastle’s other strikers, would suffer the current fate of Owen — three defenders marking him because the other striker is useless and they needn’t worry about him.

    The simple matter is, Newcastle need to worry about this season first. Get Owen and Martins playing together, see how it works. Then worry over the summer about who works best, and who stays, and who starts, etc. The truth is, if Owen is fit and playing well, in a club that’s 13th on the table — he’ll likely leave and it’ll be a moot point. Much as I rate him, Newcastle do not own his heart as they did Shearer’s. There will be buyers, if he’s fit and on decent form.

  • Michael

    Feb 27, 2008 at 4:55 PM

    Comment #18

    Absolutely agree reb. Martins while good in many respects has too many flaws the counter some of his positive attributes. His movement is too erratic, and there is little thought in it at all. He puts himself in a position receives the ball but then did not think beyond that point (now what?)

    His shots on goal are not done when poised to score. Take a shot when poised to score rather than getting rid of it before you are closed down. Look a a striker like Ruud Van Nistilrooy. He places a ball with intention. Martins hits and hopesmore than anything. No placement skill just hit and hope.

    He cannot read a game. I think he is overrated and these attributes are there when you are young and energetic but will go when you get older. This is common with shorter strikers. Look at Owne he was ellectric when younger pace, placement and poise even audacity. As a short striker when you get older you lose the electricuty, audacity and pace all you are left with is poise and placement . Martins has pace, is electric but all these in a few years will go. You do not learn to be poised, placement perhaps. All the attributes are congruent work together to make a top striker Like Owen was in his youth. Martins sadly will not keep this up. Better we sell him now. He is not a 20 goal a season striker. Or even 15 goals a season.

  • Ian

    Feb 27, 2008 at 6:39 PM

    Comment #19

    Martins has had more success and is part of the same team, he has had the same supply as Owen. Owen cannot create his own chances and that is the very reason that I think Martins will save the day; we do not have top quality midfield players so you have to be more creative, that is exactly the reason why Martins is more succesful, and why we will be again when he plays again, however if Martins and Owen do not link well then another striker should replace Owen alongside Martins, but hopefully they will gel,. I do not think we will ever find midfielders good enough in the summer that we can attract here, to give Owen that amazing service everyone keeps talking about. Potential and service are excuses, not solutions, I think Martins is a solution, when he is older and slows down we will have to sell him, but I think he will move on to greater things, however there are many older players who are a lot older than Owen who can still run, Owen should be at his peak, it should be slowly down hill from here on.

  • Reb

    Feb 27, 2008 at 7:16 PM

    Comment #20

    I’ve argued it before, and I do firmly believe, that Martins has not played in this “same team” and the “same supply” — he’s not played for Newcastle for almost two months, there are different players on the pitch (Duff, Barton, CARR) and others are in different form now (Butt and Smith, particularly, look worse now than in the autumn, imo). Martins was not on form when he left for the ACoN, and he didn’t exactly gain it while there. He’s hardly played at all since 2 Jan, he’ll not be sharp or “match fit” and he’s also not scored since 8 Dec. Yes, the lad has some good, needed, qualities for Newcastle — but I don’t think he can single-handedly rescue the team. C. Ronaldo, Rooney, and Henry would struggle in this dross — Obafemi Martins is hardly going to be a saviour.

    I think Martins will be a great contributor to the squad, but I just won’t pip him as some sort of saviour. He’s not that good of a player, honestly, to turn a whole team. The problem with building up the expectations of him is that people will then classify him as failure when it doesn’t happen — and it won’t be Martins’ fault any more than it is Owen’s fault!

    For the record, I don’t think Owen needs “amazing service” — but he does need some semblance of service. Newcastle haven’t provided even mediocre service, there’s been barely any at all. Owen needs a proper partner, so he’s not being double and triple marked, and a decent (not amazing) midfield — Liverpool was hardly “amazing” for most of his years there, but he was class. Same, one might say, of his first few months with NUFC before his injuries — hardly an amazing midfield, but he scored 7 goals in 10 matches.

    The thing of it is — you can’t blame Owen or Martins when they don’t score loads in this squad. The midfield is so bad that Michael Owen has been all-but playing in midfield the last few matches to try to cover the CMs’ faults. I am not slating Martins — I want him back in the XI. I think he could be important to survival, maybe even climbing a few places on the table — but I won’t say he’s a saviour, any more than I expected Owen to be a saviour (and, to be honest, I think Owen is a vastly superior goalscorer).

    You say Martins is more creative — he has to be, as he takes at least double as many chances to score. I think his creative, unpredictable nature make him a good foil for the more consistent, more intelligent goalscorer. Martins would not have scored/poached Owen’s goals in the matches v. Boro and Villa — but he might have helped to create a few chances.

    Newcastle should concentrate on playing the two of them together for now, not arguing Owen v. Martins. No other partnership looks as promising, especially if Keegan continues to get the lads playing more and more with the ball to feet. Come summer, it may be a moot point which stays or goes — for now, worry about getting to May still in the Premiership not who will play where next season. If Martins and Owen don’t “gel” Newcastle are in trouble — I’ve seen little evidence of Viduka/Martins being prolific (assuming Viduka stays fit) or worse, Smith and ANYONE. Have we seen a full match of Owen/Viduka with their respective fitness issues? Newcastle need Martins and Owen to play together.

  • Ian

    Feb 27, 2008 at 8:53 PM

    Comment #21

    I agree with your last post Reb, except I do think Martins will make the difference, I dont think it will be all down to Martins to do everything, I simply think having his prescence in the squad complicates the defense of the opposition, I too hope that Owen and Martins gel and it works like a dream, then get Owen tied up with a good contract, if it doesnt we are in trouble, however if I had to be left with one of the top three strikers fit and available it would be Martins every time, he does miss like you say, but attempts on goal are tripled when he is on the pitch, in fact more than tripled if you look back at a couple of the last matches (two attempts on goal all of the match).
    I agree with the marking issue, with Martins it will divide their marking, if Viduka can fit in behind then they will have some serious marking issues.
    Anyhow it is better news isnt it, but two players back in the squad who have been out a while may not work as well as we would hope first time out.

  • Reb

    Feb 27, 2008 at 11:18 PM

    Comment #22

    My main fear, Ian, is that Martins isn’t “match fit” and a certain segment of the fans will start shouting that Owen/Martins can’t possibly work because of one match. We’ve never seen them together over a decent run. Also, I’d hate to see people build Martins up into a saviour, then clamor for him to be sold or something because he can’t possibly deliver on overly-high expectations.

    I think we’ll just have to agree to disagree about whether we’d prefer Owen or Martins with only one striker fit — and desperately hope that they both stay fit for the rest of the season!

  • Ian

    Feb 28, 2008 at 8:59 AM

    Comment #23

    I see where you are coming from Reb and agree that while I see Martins as starting a winning streak, at the same time I do not hang everything on the one player, I would hate for the fans to that to him when he tries so hard for us, I only see Martins as a final piece of the Milner, Nzogbia (if he is forward) and Duff jigsaw, a link up with those types of players, not Martins as a Roy of the Rovers type of figure, even though occassionally he seems to manage that!
    There is a flow that ends just before the goal with the two wingers, I think it will take that final step with Martins on the pitch.

    Blackburn are a difficult side to beat, superfit and super organised with one of the best keepers in the premiership at beating clever strikers, Liverpool have a good defense and Torres is working really well with the midfielders and other strikers in their team, Bentley and Pederson are really dangerous and it looks like Mccarthy has managed to get it all back together again, typical! so it may be more about them than us, we keep putting a different team on the pitch as players come back form the ANC and recover from fitness or jail!! Blackburn and Liverpool almost play the same team week in and week out with the same substitutions so it is going to be tough.


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