Chris Hughton has defended his decision to drop Newcastle highest paid player, Michael Owen, for Saturday’s game against Arsenal, which we lost 3-1.
Michael Owen – dropped for Arsenal game
But what did we expect – for Chris to come out and say he had made a big mistake?
Not starting Michael could have cost us the goal after 23 minutes, when Martins surprisingly wasn’t up to it, and took a poor penalty that goalkeeper Almunia, who had given the penalty away, saved easily. We’ll never know if Michael would have scored that, but we know he would have taken the penalty.
What really surprised fans about the dropping of Owen is that Chris had talked all week what an important role Michael would play for Newcastle, for the rest of the season, and the next thing we know he’s dropped, and Owen could hardly have been pleased about that.
And Chris has said the same things today:
“I expect Michael to play a very big part for us,” “One thing that hasn’t changed is he is a top-quality player and a finisher.”
“We’re going to need his qualities before the end of the season.” “We’re all aware that Michael was out for a period of six weeks before he was brought back into the frame last week.”
“Michael has been good in training but we are aware that he’s not as up to match speed as we’d like him to be.” “That came into my thinking when determining the 11. There are ways that you can use players – I chose to use him as an impact substitute.”
“It was also a decision to bring Peter (Lovenkrands) in, and I thought he did well. I didn’t regret my decision when we missed the penalty. There is no guarantee that Michael starting would have got us the win.”
“It was a judgment call from myself and you hope you get more right than wrong.” “The incident with Steven Taylor is a normal incident. We were disappointed with the timing of the goal more than anything.”
“He went off the park and, unless the player is saying he can’t continue, you have to give them that period of time.” “At that stage we had formed a back four with Habib Beye coming in to partner Coloccini. It was more the timing of the goal that worried me.”
Michael must start against Chelsea, and we think he will, and it’s only fair to give Owen the chance to save Newcastle this season. He’s our highest paid player, and our top goal scorer so leaving him out doesn’t seem to make much sense logically.
Yes he’s not match fit but it takes playing him to get him fit. We were good last Saturday for 65 minutes, until Arsenal scored their second goal, and that was when when Steven Taylor was off the pitch and we were down to 10 men. Steven had his second great game in a row, with some fabulous blocks, and was again our Man Of The Match with 56% of the vote. It taking a local lad to show the way in our relegation fight.
Unfortunately, matches still last 90 minutes, not just 65 minutes, and in the end we were just not good enough to get anything out of Arsenal. That’s probably going to be true against Chelsea too – but it’s the upcoming games after that that will decide our season.
And yes, most Newcastle fans now see that we could indeed be relegated this season, and it would be the biggest kick in the teeth for Newcastle fans we’ve ever seen – and we’ve seen quite a few of them over the years, believe us.
It was also heart warming to still see the wonderful support of the Geordie fans last Saturday, and the anxiety on their faces was there for all to see – but that somehow just makes it even worse.
My wonderful late father, who followed Newcastle home and away during their successes of the 1950s, with 3 FA Cup wins, must be turning in his grave at what’s happened to Newcastle this season. 🙁
Read Ed’s new report on the 3-1 home defeat against Arsenal last Saturday, in his News of The World Column.