Hughton Defends Dropping Owen – That’s A Surprise

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. 🙁

Comments welcome.

Read Ed’s new report on the 3-1 home defeat against Arsenal last Saturday, in his News of The World Column.

25 comments so far

  • Kash

    Mar 23, 2009 at 10:07 AM

    Comment #1

    Well starting with Duff instead of Jonas was the worst decision!

  • nufc007

    Mar 23, 2009 at 10:17 AM

    Comment #2

    i thought duff done well considering his injury! he looked like doing something….. i didnt think much of nolan or butt but i guess there not the type of players to impact!

    however i did see butts step overs………..

  • bowburnmag

    Mar 23, 2009 at 10:19 AM

    Comment #3

    Kash, I thought Duff looked as good as anybody in the first half even though I’ve been one of his biggest critics at times. Personally, I think we’d be better dumping Ryan Taylor unless he’s needed at the back. Give Jonas time to adapt on the right and play him there. Jonas needs to up his game too, to be fair. Duff over Ryan Taylor for me everytime based on what I’ve seen recently. Great at set-pieces until he turns out in black and white and now can’t hit a barn door from free or set-play. Now there’s a surprise. I’ll give him time but I remember Wigan fans saying they wouldn’t lose much sleep over him.

  • bowburnmag

    Mar 23, 2009 at 10:20 AM

    Comment #4

    I know R Taylor is more comfortable at full-back as well, in case LooneyToon or someone corrects me but he wouldn’t get in the side at full-back when Beye and Enrique are fit.

  • Toon Graeme

    Mar 23, 2009 at 10:22 AM

    Comment #5

    MO didnt exactly set the pitch on fire did he when he came on – for me he was practically anonymous.

    Would MO have scored? Would Arsenal still have scored 3? Probably – the pace at fitness started to shine and ours dropped towards the end.

    I for one was taken aback but still think Oba and Loven work better together than MO.

    Im more concerned about our back 4 with Bassong & Taylor being crocked.

    Geremi, Edgar or Cascapa to fill the void if they arent back? That WORRIES me more than MO sitting on the bench.

  • Whumpie

    Mar 23, 2009 at 10:25 AM

    Comment #6

    Ed. Sorry, mate, but I disagree with you on so much you’ve written since the game. Brace…

    1. You seem to think we played badly. We started quietly, but from 10 minutes in to the injury to Taylor we absolutely took it to them and were more than capable of winning it.

    2. Good call on not starting Owen – see above point. If he’d started and not looked sharp (and only the gaffer knows whether he is before the game) then this article would be slagging Hughton off for the opposite decision. Owen came on and was obviously not up to it.

    3. “biggest kick in the teeth for Newcastle fans we’ve ever seen”? Really? Were you around in the early 90’s?

    4. “heart warming to still see the wonderful support of the Geordie fans”. Was that the same fans who deserted their team with 20 minutes to go? I was embarrassed to be in that pub, taking stick from all angles about the obvious lack of loyalty. It was pathetic.

    Sorry, Ed – but I’m ashamed right now, but not of the team. Yes, it’s dark days – but did you really expect to win against Arsenal? Are you going to be up in arms again when we lose to Chelski?

    We were fine up to our 2nd defender getting injured. Up to then the team showed everything we need to win matches, but you’d never know it from some of the angry, reactionist, subjective stuff that’s been written here.

  • batty

    Mar 23, 2009 at 10:26 AM

    Comment #7

    Duffs our only attacking midfeilder seeing ashley got rid ov milner zogs and emre so we have to play him


    Mar 23, 2009 at 10:26 AM

    Comment #8

    OFF TOPIC GUYS, BUT FINALLY someone talking sense regarding joe.

    why did anyone on the board ever think that rushing joe back would be a good thing… do people want him dead? i’m disgusted.

    and it may just cost us a heavy heavy price… one that ashley wont be able to pay

    “Newcastle United vice-president Malcolm Dix has told Joe Kinnear not to rush back from his heart triple by-pass.

    Dix is fully aware of Kinnear’s issue having needed open heart surgery in the 90s and is concerned that the Magpies boss could endanger his health by returning too soon.

    Dix – whose grandfather Walter was a founding member of Newcastle in the 1880s – is a respected voice on Tyneside and he is worried about Kinnear returning as early as the Stoke clash on April 11.

    “I actually had a quintuple heart operation compared with Joe’s triple op, but the fact I was younger at 50 – compared to his 62 – balances things out,” he told The People.

    “My advice to Joe would be not to resume his duties as manager of Newcastle for at least six months, which would take us to the start of next season.

    “The first six months after an operation of this kind are nothing short of horrendous.

    “There are all the side affects and it’s not just muscular as the body reacts to everything, but psychologically as well.”

  • beyeisgod

    Mar 23, 2009 at 10:31 AM

    Comment #9

    I was delighted that Oba and Love started in place of MO. It’s absolute nonsense to say that MO would have got that penalty, how do you know that a penalty would have happened with different players on the pitch?

    There is one certainty though, Owen would never have scored the goal that Oba did either, and as for him being captain – well it’s a complete joke. Making someone captain who can’t wait to get out of here? Madness.

    Hughton wont have the balls not to start him again, and that will be part of our downfall.

    Did he even kick the ball when he came on?

    And mate, I can remember worse times than this, how about the dark 80s?


    Mar 23, 2009 at 10:32 AM

    Comment #10

    have to agree with you there whumpie, watching the fans leave and seeing a half empty SJP was depressing

    if you watch the game back, their last two goals came as soon as we lost tayls, the gunners just came waltzing through the massive gap he left before the team had chance to reform.

    it was sad to see some good chances go begging, and martins’ miss left me speechless… his right foot?!? did no one say to him..”put a hole in the net with this one!”

    not a bad performance by the team

    oh, and one last thing, if owen was on, he would not of been able to score the goal that martins did, thats for sure!

  • Matt

    Mar 23, 2009 at 10:37 AM

    Comment #11

    I don’t get Hughton.

    A week ago wasn’t he basically saying Owen will save us? Now he’s gone back on it and benched him. Why did he bring on Ameobi and why did he not start Jonas? I have serious questions in my mind about him and have done for a long time. I don’t think he’s the right sort of coach for us at Newcastle.

  • Toon Graeme

    Mar 23, 2009 at 10:44 AM

    Comment #12

    Whumpie –

    I think as fans we should stay until the bitter end of the 90 + stoppage.

    That is one thing that has never entered my mind to do ever.

  • Whumpie

    Mar 23, 2009 at 10:46 AM

    Comment #13

    While I’m no more convinced of Hughton’s abilities than most, you have to accept that he selects based on something we don’t see – performance in training.

    Jonas looked poor last game and we have to assume he’s not bucked up in training. Likewise with Owen, who came on and looked awful. Ameobi was… well, Ameobi. Got a decent shot on target, which was more than MO managed.

    I think the only mistake Hughton made on Saturday was not subbing Taylor straight away – and even that is partly Taylor’s fault for not knowing when he was out and letting pride get in the way. Understandable, but it cost us the match.

    Mind you – shows how important Taylor can be to us.

  • Toon Graeme

    Mar 23, 2009 at 10:46 AM

    Comment #14

    Fixture on April 4th that will affect us:

    Blackburn v Tottenham, 12:45
    Bolton v Middlesbrough, 15:00
    Hull v Portsmouth, 15:00
    West Brom v Stoke, 15:00
    West Ham v Sunderland, 15:00

  • hitman

    Mar 23, 2009 at 10:49 AM

    Comment #15

    we need the spuds to turn owa blackburn,because if they dont and we get nowt from chelski game were 5 a drift of 17th.

  • hitman

    Mar 23, 2009 at 10:50 AM

    Comment #16

    5 points


    Mar 23, 2009 at 10:50 AM

    Comment #17

    it shoudl be obligatory TG

    for all the players faults and problems, if we leave and dont show our support, it will breed negativity in the team… this is the time when solidarity matters. its tough, especially now… if you want the glory of when we’re winning, you have to take the shame of when we’re losing.

    i hope bassong and tayls are back for chelsea, otherwise its all gonna go to pot


    Mar 23, 2009 at 10:52 AM

    Comment #18

    and then the poo wont be round our knees, it’ll be around our waist.. and rising

  • Macas35

    Mar 23, 2009 at 11:18 AM

    Comment #19

    What an awful article. Not everyone will agree with what Hughton decides, but at the end of the day it’s his choice. He could have refused to take over as manager but to his credit he decided to help the club out. Gutierrez has been toothless all season so it’s no wonder he was dropped, and as for Owen taking the penalty…he doesn’t exactly have the greatest record with those himself!!

  • Sav

    Mar 23, 2009 at 11:21 AM

    Comment #20

    Some good points from Whumpie. The team did play with some spirit and credit to Hughton for some of that and for making decisive selections- whether right or wrong, he made changes after Hull and he had to. (although I don’t know why MO was not started off the bench for that one and perhaps on from the beginning against Arsenal).

    However, the reason for fans’ anger is that now it is coming to roost not the 3 points on Saturday, but all those other squandered points throughout the season when winnable matches were thrown away, players didn’t turn up and not enough was done. Many fans have been saying this could have severe consequences since Keegan signalled it. And now it is coming to pass.

    I don’t have much faith in bringing in Venables or Dalglish (God forbid) at this stage. Its the last thing we need. The January transfer window was the last real opportunity to do something positive and that’s long gone. However, I don’t have much faith in the current management if there is any long-term strategy they are not the ones to bring us through it.

  • jimiley

    Mar 23, 2009 at 11:37 AM

    Comment #21

    Hughton has bottle for dropping Owen. The problem is that he is a crap manager. Crap owner, manager and team. It is our destiny to be releagated.

  • jimiley

    Mar 23, 2009 at 11:40 AM

    Comment #22

    And the latest news is that bassong and Taylor are out for Chelsea. Nul points there then. We will be detached from 4th place by the time Boro and Fulham come along so they will count for nothing. We will be down by the end of April.

  • playzoginthemiddle

    Mar 23, 2009 at 12:55 PM

    Comment #23

    It’s clear who the back 4 against chelsea will be anyway. Enrique and Ryan Taylor full backs and Coloccini (God help us) and Beye in the middle. It picks itself – Cacapa and Edgar just aren’t good enough.

    And is it just me, or is Martins not left-footed? Certainly his belters from outside the box have always been with his left foot. If so, why does he take (crap) pens with his right?

    See you’ve finally understood we’re in the shite, ed, after weeks of baseless optimism.

  • RyanToon

    Mar 23, 2009 at 12:58 PM

    Comment #24

    team for chelsea


    r.taylor coloccini beye enrique

    lovenkrands nolan guthrie jonas



    thats what id pick

  • Tom_Toon

    Mar 23, 2009 at 8:21 PM

    Comment #25



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