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Owen and Keegan 'make up'?


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Sorry if this was posted elsewhere, not seen it myself before. Makes for a pleasant read.





IT could have been one of the most awkward moments of Michael Owen's career.


There, stood in the doorway of the Newcastle dressing room, was the man Owen had criticised in his book three years ago.


Yet if the England striker was expecting a sub-zero reception from Kevin Keegan, there was still one surprise left from the man who just hours earlier had stunned Tyneside with his return to St James' Park.



The two met after Wednesday's FA Cup win over Stoke and there was a warm handshake and brief but vital conversation.


As Owen explained: "Kevin sat next to me and said: ‘You've played for some big clubs like Liverpool and Real Madrid and have experienced what the atmosphere can be like there. But, believe me, you haven't seen half of what this place can be like yet.'"


In just a few short sentences, Keegan had taken the first steps in helping Owen buy into his vision of Newcastle's future, a future that was so starkly different than the one Owen faced under the previous regime.


And Owen explained: "I have to say Kevin convinced me that there are exciting times ahead for Newcastle. I definitely want to be part of it. You tell me a striker who wouldn't want play in a team with Kevin Keegan as manager.


"Managers can have different philosophies. For instance, Sam Allardyce might prefer to concentrate on his back four, keep a clean sheet and nick a 1-0 result.


"Kevin Keegan will also want to keep a clean sheet but he will want to put on an entertaining performance and score plenty of goals — and that means everything to me.


"He definitely believes in playing more football with plenty of passing and movement. I will settle for that."


There was no mention of the criticism Owen had launched against Keegan in his biography over his treatment of the striker at the Euro 2000 finals — even though Keegan has admitted privately he was hurt by it.


Both men chose to ignore it, although Owen insists he stands by every word he wrote following his time at the finals in Belgium and Holland almost eight years ago.


In one passage, Owen did not mince his words as he described the build-up to the final group game against Romania.


He wrote: "He (Keegan) said to me, ‘Michael, if I was any other manager you would not be playing tomorrow. You've got to improve or we'll have to change.'


But Owen insisted: "What I said in my book a few years back was an honest opinion and I stand by it.


"I don't see any need to take those words back — and from the comments Kevin made in his first press conference on Friday afternoon, he felt the same way.


"It was probably said in frustration but it was how I felt at Euro 2000. As far as I am concerned it is not water under the bridge — it is water off a duck's back. I don't see it as an issue now.


"I know I wasn't playing well but I'd just experienced my first major injury at Liverpool — a hamstring strain — and I was frustrated. But that wasn't helped when I was taken off in one game at half-time and after an hour in another.


"I described it as the most difficult time of my career and that feeling about that specific time remains. I got on fine with Kevin as England manager. He generated a great atmosphere and he prided himself on that feelgood factor. I did not have a go at him as a person or his style of football — just with his handling of a situation which left me so frustrated.


"Looking back now I realise I didn't have a divine right to stay on the pitch but I still feel he wasn't 100 per cent sure of me."


But there was no ill-feeling when Owen and Keegan met up again on Wednesday night.


With a few words the new Toon boss managed to convince the club's record signing that good times were ahead.


And Keegan went a step further by making Owen captain for yesterday's Premier League clash with Bolton.


Three days earlier in the cup replay against Stoke the Newcastle players were not aware Keegan had arrived until they left the pitch at half-time.


But Owen said: "The kick-off was delayed by 15 minutes to allow all the fans to get in and that was the first sign of the impact he had made. The crowd was lifted.


"You could sense there was a change of mood around the club.


"The boss came in 15-20 minutes after the game and shook hands with all the lads and had a chat with some of us. Immediately there was a lift, a buzz about the place.


"There was an even bigger buzz in training on Friday morning. The session was no different to normal but you could sense there was an extra spring in everyone's step.


"Then I got home and switched on the television and watched Kevin's press conference. It was fantastic to see him at work. The whole room was spellbound.


"You could feel the enthusiasm. Anyone who is not uplifted by his arrival must have something seriously wrong with them. The fans and players are certain to respond. It seems there will be money available for him to spend on the team and he'll bring back the style of play the fans want, a way that lets me play the way I can be most effective.


"This is a new chapter at Newcastle and a new phase in my career. I'm genuinely excited to be playing under his guidance.


"I suppose the only danger is that people will expect too much too soon. But I doubt you will ever dampen the enthusiasm and optimism of the Newcastle fans — and who can blame them after what has happened this week. If that is a taste of what it is to come then I can't wait."


Owen's future at Newcastle has been a constant subject of speculation but he is adamant he wants to stay at St James' Park.


He insists he has plenty to offer the Toon Army and can shake off the wretched run of injuries that has blighted his two-and-a-half years at the club.


Owen said: "Kevin has been quoted as saying he has unfinished business at the club and that's exactly how I feel.


"There has been loads of speculation which has left me in a no-win position. If I say nothing, people think there is something in the rumours but if I respond to them I would spend all of my week denying them.


"I have not been fit enough for long enough to show the fans what I can do but if I can stay 100 per cent right, I know I will do well here under the new manager.


Looks like our future will certainly involve Owen then.

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Guest Ridzuan

A very welcoming news indeed.Looks like they have put their differences aside and hopefully,Owen will be the first captain to lift a trophy with us after 50 long years of suffering which I believe he can if he stays in the side a lot longer.

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I think thats the most lucid and positive interview I have heard from him in a long time. Maybe since he arrived here.

Definitely sounds up for the whole thing and sounded very keen about the idea of playing in a postivie and attack minded team

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A very welcoming news indeed.Looks like they have put their differences aside and hopefully,Owen will be the first captain to lift a trophy with us after 50 long years of suffering which I believe he can if he stays in the side a lot longer.


Where does this "50 long years" come from??  It keeps being trawled up, usually (though) by the 'pig ignorant' London Media!


It is 39 years since we won the European Fairs Cup (as the UEFA Cup used to be called) and in those days it was a MUCH bigger tournament than now (far harder to win) as only one team went into the European Cup (as the Champions League used to be called) so all those 'second, third, and fourth placed teams' went into the Fairs Cup from most countries.

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