Alan Shearer and Michael Owen have become embroiled in a twitter spat after the latter hit out at Newcastle United, saying the move was a ‘regret’ and his former manager was “a failure”.
In a short video in which Owen talking about wanting to retire and hating the end of his career, Shearer replied saying: “Yes Michael, we thought that also, whilst on £120k a week”.
When Gary Lineker highlighted the awkward exchange, Owen responded: Are you surprised he’s [Shearer] manipulated a tiny part of an honest answer to aim a cheap dig at me? Most ex players I’ve spoken to aren’t.”
It began when Michael Owen hit out at Newcastle fans as he revealed he still regrets his ill-fated move to the club - claiming that it was ‘downward step’ in his career.
Owen, who played joined the Magpies in 2005, also opened up on how his relationship with Alan Shearer soured during the club’s disastrous relegation campaign in 2009.
In his new autobiography, Reboot - My Life, My Time serialised in The Daily Mirror, the former England striker discusses his disappointment in moving to the North East from Real Madrid, after having his heart set on a return to Liverpool.
“My move to Newcastle was one I really regret,” Owen admits. “I should have followed my gut instincts from the start. I didn’t want to go there.”
Despite 20,000 supporters turning up to welcome his signing, there appeared to be little by way of a bond between fans and player, mainly due to injury sidelining him for much of his time at the club.
Against Watford in 2007, in what was just his 14th appearance in nearly two years, Owen suffered another injury causing fans to turn, chanting “what a waste of money”.
“I can’t deny their actions that day changed things for me,” Owen says angrily. “No longer was I even going to attempt to ingratiate myself with the fans.
“Instead, I flipped it in a slightly more resentful way thinking, I don’t need to justify myself to f****** Newcastle fans.”
Owen famously burst onto the scene as a teenager at Anfield, scoring on his debut at 18 and going on to become the club’s leading scorer for the next seven seasons in a row.
However, in 2004, new manager Rafael Benitez decided the striker wasn’t in his plans and after 158 goals for the Reds, Owen was sold to Real Madrid.
After failing to settle after a year in the Spanish capital, the forward looked to return to England - but only had one destination in mind.
“Right at the beginning of the 2005/06 season in Madrid the president, Florentino Pérez, said: ‘Newcastle has made a bid in the region of £16 million. If you want to go, then you can go. If you want to stay, you can stay.’
“‘But I want to go to Liverpool,’ I told him. ‘That’s not possible unless they match Newcastle’s offer,’ he said.”
“At the time, that statement was a dagger in the heart. I was being presented with two options – neither of which I particularly fancied.”
Owen reluctantly moved to Newcastle but laments this decision today, still ruing the fact Liverpool weren’t keen on his return.
“Liverpool couldn’t match Newcastle’s offer,” he said “From a career perspective, there was no doubt in my mind that a move to the North East was a downward step.
“As unpalatable as that opinion might be to Newcastle fans, that’s more or less what I felt.
“This, I should say, was not a reflection on Newcastle United specifically. I would have found a reason not to sign with any club that wasn’t Liverpool.”
In an injury-ravaged four-year spell at St James’ Park, Owen still netted 30 times in 79 appearances, but made clear his desire to leave the club as they battled against the drop in the 2008-09 season.
With games running out and the team struggling towards the foot of the table, manager Joe Kinnear was replaced by club legend and Owen’s former England teammate Alan Shearer in April of that campaign.
The two also linked up briefly at Newcastle until Shearer’s retirement in 2006.
However, the bond the two had formed on the pitch failed to reignite with Shearer in the dugout, leading to a falling out and prolonged animosity between the pair.
“It’s sad that my feud with Alan Shearer rumbles on to this day – we used to be good mates,” Owen says regretfully. “I’d lived with him in the early days and we saw each other socially when we both lived at Darras Hall.
“In my eyes, he was not only a strike partner on the pitch from a playing perspective; he was also a good mate.”
Not sure you are as loyal to Newcastle as you make out mate. I distinctly remember you being inches away from signing for Liverpool after Sir Bobby Robson put you on the bench. You tried everything to get out. https://t.co/ZQBrlojeEv— michael owen (@themichaelowen) September 3, 2019
Things came to a head in the final game of the season when the Magpies needed a draw at Villa Park to preserve their Premier League status.
“I was a week away from fitness for the final game of the season.
“I told him that I wasn’t fully fit but was prepared to play. As I left his office that day, he made an insinuation that led me to believe he thought I had half an eye on my next contract. I’m not stupid – we both knew I was out of contract in a few weeks.”
Newcastle would go on to lose the game 1-0 with Owen only managing a substitute appearance late on.
“It wasn’t until three months later, I discovered that Alan Shearer was apparently seething with me. Not only that, it transpired that he was telling anyone who’d listen what he thought of me.”
Equally, Owen refuses to hold back when it comes to assessing his former friend’s brief managerial spell.
“Shearer’s record as manager in the last eight games of that 2008/2009 season was dire: lost 5, drew 2, won 1. These are hardly God-like stats.
“He was brought in at St. James’ Park as the saviour, the local boy. It could have been a great story. But he failed. Newcastle United were relegated.
“Perhaps rather than examine his own shortcomings, it felt easier to blame Michael Owen.”